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Professor Emeritus Rodenberg Shares Stories Highlighting Fond Memories of Lab School, International Office Experiences

By Jeff Murphy, March 31, 2023


University High School administrators handed out diplomas to its last graduating class in 1976, the same year many of its faculty members transitioned to full-time teaching at what was then Central Missouri State University. One of those faculty members produced a booklet  featuring his fond memories of this school.

From his early years teaching at the University of Central Missouri’s former lab school to serving as the university’s first Director of International Programs, Professor Emeritus Terry Rodenberg has always had a reputation as a great storyteller.  In retirement, he is putting that ability to use sharing with others two self-published booklets highlighting  his own favorite memories as well as those from past colleagues and alumni.

The longtime educator's first work, “A Personal Look About Life at the Lab School,” and his second publication, “Stories of the International Office,” are now available on a limited basis. He is offering both of these for a small fee to help recoup his publication costs, but notes, “I think the readers will have some good laughs, and a small financial loss is worth it.”

“I have always been a teacher that uses a lot of ‘stories’ as examples and so I remembered quite a few things from my experiences at the lab school,” Rodenberg noted in talking about his first booklet. “On more than one occasion someone has told me, ‘You ought to write these things down or they will be lost forever.’ So, I began to write as I thought of them, and this eventually evolved into the booklet.”

The majority of stories are written by the author. Several other faculty members and former students also contributed.

“The word spread among some of the old students (many now in their 60’s) and several sent me short snippets of their favorite memories,” Rodenberg said.

Rodenberg was an instructor at the lab school from 1972 to 1975, and was on leave when University High School, located in the Lovinger Building, closed at the end of the 1975-1976 academic year. His first year at what was then known as Central Elementary School at Central Missouri State University, he taught social studies to children in grades five through eight, and the last two years he taught at both the elementary and secondary levels serving grades seven through 12. He also taught college classes in the summer so his first full calendar year gave him a rare opportunity to be exposed to students within a wide range of grade levels.

With the closure of University High, Rodenberg became one of several teachers who continued teaching in regular university courses as a member of the sociology department in 1976. He was assigned to serve as the first Director of International Programs in 1987, a position that began with a one-quarter time assignment, but as programs grew his position working with international students became a full-time job. He left UCM in 2005 and upon his return taught in The Honors College in 2017 and 2018. 

Currently residing in Lee’s Summit and enjoying his retirement, Rodenberg looks back at his experiences at the lab school and international office with great fondness. He hopes his stories will re-kindle  memories for other individuals at home and abroad whose lives were touched by the people and events that made these educational facilities great places to learn and serve.

“The lab school was significant to me on several levels. On a personal level, it was my first teaching experience (other than an internship at a lab school in Minnesota) and I was fortunate to be given free rein on what I wanted to do in class. I also was able to work with some really outstanding teachers, and several became role models for me,” he said.

Throughout his tenure at the lab school, Rodenberg also experienced life as an educator often observed by cameras in one-way mirrored classrooms. This, he said, “certainly developed my teaching style.”

“With hindsight, I also realized what an exceptional learning environment it was for our students and what an excellent education we could provide them,” Rodenberg added.

He also spoke about what it meant to be part of the international program, noting, “The greatest value in my international office history was probably the opportunity to interact and develop friendships, plus I had an incredible staff on campus to help make things happen. Many of these personal relationships continue today,” Rodenberg said.

“In addition, our office received strong support from President Ed Elliott, and this allowed us to accomplish things that most international offices never do. The program in Maastricht, the Netherlands, is an excellent example of this, as we won the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education, awarded by the Institute of International Education,” Rodenberg recalled.                                            

Individuals who want to know more about Rodenberg’s booklets and how to obtain a copy are urged to email him at

Terry Rodenberg, a professor emeritus at the University of Central Missouri, has produced booklets that feature stories about life as a teacher at the university's former elmentary and secondary lab school, and as the university's first Director of International Programs.



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