By Ellen DiBiase
This story recently appeared in the winter 2012 edition of Harker Quarterly.
Highlighted in this issue of Harker Quarterly are three generous Harker families who helped take science and technology programming to the next level – with leading donations of one million dollars or more.
The Jain Family
Following a distinguished career in technology, Dr. Navin Jain retired in 1993, with the goal of spending more time with his family and pursuing new levels of spiritual growth. That very year, reflective of his altruistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Madhu, became the first visionary benefactors in Harker’s Cornerstones Campaign to initiate the school’s K-12 expansion.
Today, the Jain Technology Center in Nichols Hall is a treasured resource that capped off years of support from the Jains via both financial gifts and volunteer hours.
Further channeling his passions and expertise, Navin Jain has served as a member of the Harker Board of Trustees and the Parent Technology Advisory Committee. Madhu Jain, meanwhile, has been a familiar face in parent volunteering, helping with classroom support, school pictures, and special events including Grandparents’ Day and the annual fashion show. The Jains’ daughter, Nalini ’10, was an active participant in the Harker journalism program and currently attends the University of Pennsylvania.
Eric Nelson, Harker’s computer science department chair, said he appreciates having rooms designed specifically for computer science education with appropriate electrical wiring and desk design, which allows faculty to focus on the material. Having an entire department dedicated to the subject of computer science is not commonplace among high schools; in fact, he noted that computer science was not even a choice on a recent national survey asking in which department computer science was taught.
The Ringold Family
Gordon and Tanya Ringold were integral participants in the launch of the upper school, serving on the campaign committee and speaking in promotional videos on behalf of Harker parents. The two have always placed great value on the well-rounded educational approach of Harker and wanted to help take the school’s formal research program beyond that of any other high school in the area.
The Ringold Research Center in Nichols Hall provides space for many long-term projects within the research methods class as well as the open lab after-school program, where students are currently advised by a team of 15 science teachers. Anita Chetty, science department chair, is proud to share that this state-of-the-art facility boasts college-level equipment such as a gas chromatograph and a spectrophotometer.
“As our boys became part of the Harker family,” noted Tanya Ringold, “I also wanted to participate in this wonderful community. I enjoyed working as a room parent for a number of years and then joined the Parent Development Council, where I found the increasing generosity of our families a truly rewarding experience.”
Gordon Ringold, who serves as the director for the Silicon Valley Initiatives program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, continues to support the career development of Harker’s science students through mentoring and internship leads in the field of biotechnology. The Ringolds’ sons, Alex ’10 and Gregg ’07, both went on to continue their outstanding Harker baseball careers at their respective colleges, Occidental and the University of California, San Diego.
The Pawlowski Family
Even knowing that their own child would not be on campus to enjoy the new amenities, the Pawlowski family decided to give a substantial donation just prior to their son, Nic ’02, graduating. Their appreciation for Harker and its teachers is now reflected in the Pawlowski Chemistry Center.
Upper school chemistry teacher Andrew Irvine is glad to be sharing one building with his department peers and using all new facilities. “We can coordinate better with lessons and check in to see what our colleagues are doing, helping us develop more dynamic and interesting lesson plans,” he said.
Brian Pawlowski and his wife, Aki, took an early lead in the Senior Parent Appreciation giving program, and Brian Pawlowski’s continued support as a mentor in computer science has led to several memorable experiences for students lucky enough to visit the research and development labs with him at NetApp.
Thanks to the gifts of Harker families like those featured here, outstanding science and technology facilities have been offered within Nichols Hall for years. Now, looking forward, a state-of-the-art gym and theater complex will also go a long way towards preparing Harker students to enter their future colleges and workplaces with competence, confidence and enthusiasm for lifelong learning.