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U. of C. Lab School Picks Former World Bank Educator As New Director

By Sam Cholke | June 6, 2017 10:14am
 Charles Abelmann, the former head of Barrie School in Maryland, has been picked as the next director of U. of C.'s Laboratory School.
Charles Abelmann, the former head of Barrie School in Maryland, has been picked as the next director of U. of C.'s Laboratory School.
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Courtesy of the University of Chicago

HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools has chosen a former World Bank educator to be the next director.

Charles Abelmann will start July 1 in the job that oversees the 2,051 students at the school, which runs from nursery school through high school.

He replaces Beth Harris, who has served as interim director since Robin Appleby resigned in 2016.

Abelmann comes from Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD, where he has served as head of school since 2010. Prior to that, Abelmann worked for the World Bank overseeing investment in education programs in Indonesia, China and Mongolia.

In his cover letter vying for the position, Abelmann presented himself as someone who could maintain the school’s diversity and creativity and improve its connection to the university and surrounding community.

He also said he wanted to take the school in a direction promoting more advocacy in larger conversations in the country about education policy and practice.

“The school holds a unique position to look at the intersection of practice, policy and research,” Abelmann writes. “I am excited by helping the school be a convener of education policy makers, researchers and practitioners to address important issues in education and allowing student voices from the school to be part of these discussions.”

Abelmann said in the announcement of his hiring that he was excited to have been selected.

“I am excited to join a school with such a rich history and deep connections to the university, and to help chart the path forward to continue a tradition of excellence and innovation,” Abelmann said. “I grew up around university life, and I am eager to be part of a community that is so engaged in the education of children and youth, and that places a high value on questioning and collaboration.”

Abelmann has also worked as a principal and teacher and at Barrie chose to teach courses while also serving as head of school.