Focus on Faculty: Tom Jurczak

Debbie Carini
Tom Jurczak has been a fan of boarding schools since he was 14 years old.
He grew up in Maryland, and though he researched boarding schools as far away as New England, he was only able to convince his mom (who’d also attended boarding school) to let him go to The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, which was within 3 hours driving time.

“I wanted to learn and I wanted not to be bored,” said Jurczak. “If I’d stayed at home, I would have exhausted the math curriculum in the local district.”

From Lawrenceville, Jurczak matriculated to Cal Tech in Pasadena, California, where he studied chemistry, but finished with a B.S. in history (one of the first in almost 20 years to graduate with that degree).

In college, he swam and played water polo; in fact, he still returns to Cal Tech to play in annual alumni games.

Jurczak joined the Webb faculty in 2015. He teaches sophomore Integrated Physics and Chemistry and AP Physics C, a calculus-based physics course geared towards seniors.

“The AP class asks a lot of students,” said Jurczak. The course is designed to challenge students to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying patterns that describe the workings of the natural world.

“We examine a lot of different kinds of scenarios,” he added – explaining how students pursue an understanding of physical situations by performing mathematical analyses and laboratory explorations.

In addition to his faculty role, Jurczak coaches water polo, and serves as advisor to the Honor Committee, Webb’s most revered tradition.

“When I toured the campus, I could see the importance of honor, and of Thompson Webb’s commitment to doing right, everywhere I looked. That really resonated with me. When I went to Cal Tech, I was a member of the Board of Control (a committee charged with hearing cases of potential Honor System violations among undergraduates), I appreciate the importance of honor,” he said.

Jurczak lives on campus with his wife, Clara, a Lawrenceville alumna who currently teaches junior high school mathematics at Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena. The couple likes to swim and play water polo. Jurczak plays the clarinet and even joined a local concert band when he was teaching at Augusta Preparatory Day School in Augusta, Georgia.

Living and working in an environment that values honor is “really important” to Jurczak.

“The Honor Code at Webb fosters a good community,” he explained. “I instill it in everything I do, in all my commitments.”

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