This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Lynne and Bert Strieb Education has been the cornerstone of Lynne and Bert Strieb’s lives for decades.
Lynne, 74, taught 1st and 2nd grade in various Philadelphia public schools for 31 years before retiring in 2000.
Bert, 75, is a native Philadelphian who graduated from Central High School before attending the University of Pennsylvania for undergraduate and graduate school. He taught physics at LaSalle University for 45 years before retiring four years ago.
With years of dedication to the educational system in Philadelphia, the Striebs, particularly Lynne, said it is difficult to see the District in such a state of uncertainty and financial instability.
“For me … as a former teacher, as a community activist … what’s happening in the Philadelphia public schools is breaking my heart,” Lynne said.
But Lynne and Bert said they are glad to have the Notebook to keep them and the community engaged and informed about what’s taking place day by day.
“We’ve never been happy with the way newspapers in Philadelphia have covered education,” Lynne said.
“So when we first saw the Notebook, we were relieved that education in Philadelphia would be covered in a serious and thorough way.”
The Striebs have been contributing annually to the Notebook since 1994, the year it was founded. They became Notebook members when the nonprofit launched its membership program in 2009. And making perhaps one of the grandest gestures of any Notebook member to date, the Striebs have put the Notebook in their wills.
“We have chosen a group of organizations whose work we feel is important and worthy of financial support. So, in addition to our yearly donations, we have designated those groups to receive a small percentage of our estate. It’s kind of like a tithe,” Bert said.
Looking at the Striebs’ history in Philadelphia, it’s clear that their commitment to education issues is personal, deep, and wide-ranging.
The couple moved to Germantown while Lynne was in graduate school and immediately immersed themselves in the local education community.
While still in graduate school in 1962, Lynne became a long-term substitute teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar School. It was there that she discovered her passion for teaching.
“I had not planned to be a teacher,” she said. “But after that year at Dunbar, I knew I was going back to teaching.” Subsequently, she left her graduate program to pursue a teaching certification at Temple University.
As a Philadelphia teacher, Lynne co-founded the Philadelphia Teachers’ Learning Cooperative in 1978, a community of local teachers that would meet weekly to make classroom materials and share new ideas and techniques for teaching. After its founding, the School District ceased funding of the project, Lynne said, but 35 years later, the group still continues to meet at people’s homes.
Along with her involvement in both local and national education organizations, she has also written two books, including one about parent-teacher relationships published in 2010 and reviewed by the Notebook, titled Inviting Families into the Classroom: Learning from a Life of Teaching.
Bert first noticed his knack for teaching when he started tutoring students in algebra in 9th grade. As a child, he spent a lot of time at the Franklin Institute museum exploring his interest in physics, which would later become the focus of his undergraduate and graduate studies. After receiving his master’s degree, Bert landed a job at LaSalle University and never looked back.
“It turned out to be such a satisfactory experience for a variety of reasons,” he said.
About 20 years ago, Bert and some co-workers at LaSalle recognized the demand for elementary and special education majors to have a better background in science and math. As a result, he, along with three other faculty members, started teaching a course that educated prospective teachers on the basics of such subjects. What started out as a modestly sized class eventually became a required course for elementary and special education majors. Bert was the only professor to stay involved with the course throughout his career, and he taught the course as a substitute as recently as last fall.
“That was the hardest course I ever taught,” he said. “It played an important role in the latter part of my teaching career.”
Bert said that he would often recommend that his pre-service education majors read the Notebook and become familiar with its coverage. Today, the Striebs said they continue to tell people about what they can learn from the Notebook and direct them to the online articles and blog posts. Additionally, Lynne said they sometimes send links to Notebook articles to friends and colleagues around the country to let them know what’s happening in Philadelphia.
“The service the Notebook provides is immeasurable,” she said.