Embodiment of Lab retires

Derbes will leave lasting impact on students, peers

END+OF+AN+ERA.+After+33+years+of+dedicated%2C+passionate+instruction%2C+science+teacher+David+Derbes+will+retire+at+the+end+of+the+school+year.+Colleauges+and+former+students+praised+his+enthusiasm%2C+supportive+nature+and+kindness%2C+as+well+as+his+infectious+love+of+learning.
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Embodiment of Lab retires

END OF AN ERA. After 33 years of dedicated, passionate instruction, science teacher David Derbes will retire at the end of the school year. Colleauges and former students praised his enthusiasm, supportive nature and kindness, as well as his infectious love of learning.

END OF AN ERA. After 33 years of dedicated, passionate instruction, science teacher David Derbes will retire at the end of the school year. Colleauges and former students praised his enthusiasm, supportive nature and kindness, as well as his infectious love of learning.

Maria Shaughnessy

END OF AN ERA. After 33 years of dedicated, passionate instruction, science teacher David Derbes will retire at the end of the school year. Colleauges and former students praised his enthusiasm, supportive nature and kindness, as well as his infectious love of learning.

Maria Shaughnessy

Maria Shaughnessy

END OF AN ERA. After 33 years of dedicated, passionate instruction, science teacher David Derbes will retire at the end of the school year. Colleauges and former students praised his enthusiasm, supportive nature and kindness, as well as his infectious love of learning.

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Few people can say they remember the Lab community without David Derbes, but starting in the fall, this will become a reality.

“To say the least, David Derbes makes Lab Lab with his kind, caring and supportive personality — and it won’t be the same without him,” science teacher Sharon Housinger said with a smile.

After more than 33 years of teaching at Lab, science teacher David Derbes will retire at the end of the school year. Beyond teaching physics to more than a generation of Labbies, he served as a caring ear for his students, his colleagues and anyone else who could possibly need his help.

However, these last 33 years of dedicated teaching have all been because of a newspaper ad.

Dr. Derbes was an amazing teacher. He simplified complex physics and made it understandable to everyone, but more than that, he was genuinely interested in what was going on with his students and was incredibly supportive.”

— Erica Cheung, Former Student

“My wife and I were visiting family in Chicago and thinking about moving here,” Dr. Derbes explained, “and I saw this ad in the Trib — or the Sun-Times, really it doesn’t matter — the point is, I submitted my résumé and got an interview.”

Though he originally interviewed for a math position, he was sent to the science department to test for a better fit. Dr. Derbes explained how he met with the “Chemistry Queen” Judy Keen who was department chair. Right then and there, he knew he was hooked.

“I have always appreciated how smart the kids at Lab are, and I knew that going in,” Dr. Derbes said. “But I think what sets the school apart is how students treat each other with kindness. Really the school as a whole has always been on the forefront of positive change.”

Throughout his time at Lab, Dr. Derbes has seen many classes come and go, and has taught many courses with both the math and science departments.

“I was all over the place teaching different kinds of science and different kinds of math, but then, these two incredible brilliant female STEM students told me they wanted me to teach more physics, so I pushed for it, and I got it,” Dr. Derbes said.

Over the years, he has taught everything from astronomy to physics to complex calculus and with that, he has taught many different students, some who pursued physics and some who didn’t.

“His love of physics and his passion for teaching inspire each and every one of his students to pursue their interests,” senior Campbell Phalen said. “His attitude towards learning is infectious and the way he invests himself in his students makes all feel welcome.”

In 2007, Dr. Derbes received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Dr. Derbes was an amazing teacher. He simplified complex physics and made it understandable to everyone,” former student Erica Cheung said, “but more than that, he was genuinely interested in what was going on with his students and was incredibly supportive.”

Today, Ms. Cheung is a colleague teaching middle school math and still finds that same supportiveness in Dr. Derbes.

“I’ll see him in the hall and he’ll ask me questions about my family and checks in on me,” Ms. Cheung said. “His memory is incredible, and him remembering just goes to show how much he cares.”

Ms. Housinger spoke to this idea saying, “I think I can speak for all of us when I say Dr. Derbes is the ideal colleague and teacher. He’s just there for you and makes you feel recognized and turns daunting scary things into manageable ones. He’s a helper.”

Those 33 years of being a helper have made a huge impact and few can remember a time at Lab without Mr. Derbes. To say the least, it will be an adjustment for the students, faculty and staff.

“The kids are good kids, and the brains are good brains, and the hearts are good hearts,” Dr. Derbes said, “and really, I’m going to miss it all — the teaching, the people and the atmosphere.”