Ten Questions: Headmaster looks to the future

In his second year as headmaster at La Jolla Country Day School, Christopher Schuck is bringing to fulfillment a master plan that has totally transformed the Country Day physical plant from a collection of bungalow classrooms to a state-of-the-art campus poised for 21st century leadership among the nation's foremost independent schools.

A member of the faculty at LJCDS since 1987, Schuck taught math and English in all three divisions of the school, chaired the English department for 12 years, led the middle school and served as associate head of the school before his appointment as headmaster in fall 2006.

Earlier in his career, Schuck taught in public and private schools in Philadelphia, after majoring in philosophy at Princeton University and earning a master's in education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Schuck lives near La Jolla Shores with his wife, the artist Lauren Carrera, who has been a mover and shaker in the San Diego visual arts scene, and whose current studio-gallery, Artifact, is in South Park.

What brought you to La Jolla?

In 1987, my wife came to San Diego to do graduate work in psychology, and I had the good sense to follow her and the good fortune to land at La Jolla Country Day School. We thought that after a few years we'd move on to our next adventure. Our adventures just kept happening here!

What makes La Jolla special to you?

Hmmmm. A cosmopolitan community and gracious citizenry, an artistically rich history, glorious cliffs over the sea, a world-class university, lovely beaches, extraordinary restaurants, independent bookstores and a village you could walk in for hours without missing your car. And I'm just beginning …

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I still miss John Cole's Bookshop and the Landmark's Cove Theater. And I dearly wish I could have seen the Green Dragon art colony in its heyday.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by earnestness, persistence, originality and a desire to understand deeply.

Bring me a student with those qualities, and I'm pretty much a goner. I will teach and teach and teach until my brain bleeds.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I'm beginning with the assumption that no one would ask me to host a dinner party without ensuring that my wife, Lauren, was overseeing the hosting - she's more gracious and thoughtful than I am and a better conversationalist as well.

In any case, I'd extend the first four invitations to four writers I'm particularly fond of: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Shakespeare.

The other four slots I'd like to offer to the first woman president of the United States, the winner of the 2050 Nobel Peace Prize, the medical researcher responsible for eradicating HIV/AIDS in Africa and the first American to walk on Mars.

I figure the likelihood is that these undiscovered four are already here among us and moving along the paths toward their destinies. I'd love to host a dinner that brings the wisdom of the past and present to the leaders of tomorrow … it's the LJCDS English classroom all over again!

What are you currently reading?

I'm thoroughly enjoying "The Zookeeper's Wife" by Diane Ackerman (long a favorite of mine and now I'm feeling bad about not inviting her to my dinner party).

Ursula Le Guin's "The Dispossessed" preceded it. On deck is Ovid's "Metamorphoses" because something in the air has me turning that way again.

What is your most prized possession?

My collection of wedding rings - half a dozen and counting - all with the same wife! I'm hard on my hands and just beat up rings, so Lauren and I pick out new ones as we travel through romantic towns. I've got one on each hand now, and the bands we've replaced out get "repurposed" as key rings and cat toys.

What do you do for fun?

As an educator, I answer questions for fun! I also enjoy travel (see #7), reading (see #6), good conversation (see #5), teaching and learning (see #4) and wandering in La Jolla (see #3, 2, 1).

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

It's an ongoing enterprise, but it's hard to imagine a greater pride than when I hear from former students and from Country Day alumni that they are doing well and doing good.

There's an awful lot of hard work done by very many wonderful coaches and teachers that undergirds those successes.

What is your motto?

"The future can't come too soon." To show you what I mean, I'd like to invite the La Jolla community to join us on the La Jolla Country Day School campus during the week of March 16-20 for an interactive multimedia installation, "Dispatches from the Future," part of our Project 2026 initiative.

Details are on our Web site at

www.ljcds.org

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