Summer program director of 25 years to resign from post

Chronicle Staff

Summer Program Director David Coombs stands on a stage, facing the class of 2008. He speaks with a British accent, his hands dancing in front of him as he tells his audience about the exciting summers he can help them design. It is evident that he takes pleasure in his work. He smiles and his eyes crinkle behind his silver glasses.

This is a presentation he makes every year, but this will be his last.

Coombs will retire as summer program director, effective June 2007, though he will continue to teach at the Middle School. What he will teach is uncertain—he currently teaches both ninth grade history and the public speaking elective Persuasion and Argument.

“I will graduate [in June] to a free summer,” Coombs said.
“My wife and I are so looking forward to that.”

After 25 years of organizing the summer program (“My goodness,” he says when he reports this number), Coombs is now getting the season off. Previously, he worked year-round both on the summer program and as a teacher.

“It will be so very nice to have the next [summer] free so that I can travel with my wife to some of those wonderful places that I have been sending all those Harvard-Westlake students to, but could not go myself,” Coombs said.

The position will be taken over by Upper School Dean Jim Patterson, who will also continue his duties as a dean.

“I’m just so happy that I’m handing on the job to somebody who is so highly respected and so talented,” Coombs said. “I spent a lot of time building this.”

Patterson previously worked at the UCLA extension summer program for high school students and ran Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island.

“I’ve worked at summer programs for at least 15 summers,” Patterson said.

The change comes after extensive retooling of the program.

Last year, Coombs changed summer program structure and policies, making it much more organized and efficient.

He feels that after last year’s overhaul of the summer program, the summer of 2007 is “an ideal time to make the change.”