Faculty Farewells: Gunebaum logs off


Ariella Frommer, Staff Writer

Though computer science and engineering teacher Samuel Grunebaum has only taught at the school for two years, he has formed relationships with students and coworkers that have made him realize his hope to continue teaching into the future. He plans to devote the next few years to expanding his education, then return to the world of teaching.

While teaching at the school, Grunebaum enjoyed interacting with the student body, he said. “Pretty much 100 percent of the kids that I’ve met here want to learn the material that I’m teaching, and that’s not true at every school, which is a testament not only to the quality of the kids here but it’s also to the quality of the school,” he said. 

The school community values learning for the sake of learning, he said. “In addition to being happy to learn, I feel like the students here take their role seriously and they know that the school is only as good as they make it,” he said. “It’s not just kids that want to learn but it’s also kids who are respectful of each other and of the teacher and of the material.”

When he arrived at the school, Grunebaum was most excited by the task of redesigning the curriculum, he said. “I didn’t just want to teach, I also wanted to design curricula and decide what I was teaching,” he said. “It’s a rare opportunity for someone as young as me, with only two years of actual classroom teaching experience, to get to design curricula.”

For his first year at the school, Grunebaum was asked to teach the Mobile App Development course, which was a very unique experience, he said. While he had never created an app before, he centered the course around design, user interaction, and interfaces, he said. He enjoyed getting to tailor that course and teach students how to design apps that would solve problems in their communities, he said.

Grunebaum was given an advisory during his second year at the school which consisted entirely of ninth graders. Maddie Offit (9) is a member of this advisory and appreciates how during every advisory, Grunebaum asks the group a fun question, she said. The questions give the group something fun to do and bond over, Offit said.

Offit also appreciates how much help he gives to the students in his class, she said. “When we have big projects in Python, such as making a game or coding games, he gives us a bunch of work periods during class when he just goes around and he helps every single person.”

Before coming to the school, Grunebaum lived in Málaga, Spain as a computer science and English teacher through a grant based fellowship program, he said. “When COVID hit, I was told to evacuate at or stay at my own risk, and I chose to evacuate because I didn’t want to potentially be stranded in Spain for who knew how long,” he said. 

Grunebaum knew that he wanted to continue teaching, so he reached out to people he knew were teachers, including computer science teacher Lester Lee, who he attended college with, he said. Lee informed Grunebaum of an opening in the computer science department at the school, and he decided to apply for the position, he said.

Computer teacher Glenda Guerrero first met Grunebaum during his interview demo class, which he taught online due to the pandemic, she said. For the demo class, his topic connected with issues about Universal Design which is an area of study the department focuses on, Guerrero said. He does a wonderful job of engaging the students in discussion and teaching at their level of understanding, she said.

Guerrero also appreciates Grunebaum’s fluency in Spanish, she said. “Every once in a while we speak in Spanish, and I think it’s an additional link to our relationship and in the department.”
Currently, Grunebaum also does freelance work as a web designer and tutors high school aged students, he said. “I’m going to basically take the summer to see if I can sustain myself while working freelance,” he said. “If I have enough clients and consistent enough work and earn enough money to pay the rent and buy food, I’ll just keep doing that.”

If he does decide to search for other jobs, he will only look for positions in which he would also be teaching, he said. “That teaching could be training new employees, literally being a teacher to adults and teaching adults how to code like a coding boot camp, or more likely, what I would be interested in would be curriculum design.”

Grunebaum has not yet applied to attend other institutions, but he does hope to pursue some kind of advanced degree within the next few years, he said. “I know that I want to learn more, get more life experience, and also just more broad career experience, and then come back to teaching full time,” he said. “I definitely want to be teaching because I really enjoy it, and I think it’s really gratifying to be face to face with another person and teach them something and then see them understand it.”