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Kindergarten to doctorate: At ‘lab school,’
a professor’s education comes full circle

Tim Waid, an MU business professor, talks about his adventures as a student at the lab school, where he defended his dissertation three decades later.

Multimedia and text by Eric Staszczak

Located at the corner of Conley Avenue and Sixth Street, Townsend Hall was built in 1936 as a laboratory school for the College of Education. During its tenure as a school, the building served students from kindergarten through 12th grade. For decades, MU education students observed classrooms and practiced their student teaching at the lab school.

The school was known for testing and implementing innovative teaching methods, including “individually guided education” – a method that organizes students by ability rather than age and steers away from traditional grading. Tim Waid, a management professor at MU and former lab school student, gives the school credit for his intellectual accomplishments over the years.

“It gave me a very sound foundation. It gave me the ability to explore, the freedom to go beyond the limitations of staying within the constraints of ‘the box,’” Waid said. Waid studied at the lab school from kindergarten to fourth grade. Some 30 years later, Waid defended his doctoral dissertation in the same building.

“The school piqued my intellectual curiosity, and so I knew that I would eventually pursue the highest degree possible,” he said. “I just didn’t know it would be in the same rooms and same building when I was in kindergarten.”

According to the College of Education’s website, the lab school continued to operate until the 1970s. Waid said high school students stopped attending with the opening of Rock Bridge High School in 1973 and the elementary school closed five years later.