Mrs. Chen

Debbie Chen has been an important presence on campus for all of the years her son and daughter, Matthew and Natalie, have attended. This is her 13th year as a Clairbourn parent. Natalie is currently in Grade 11 at Westridge and Matthew is in Grade 8 at Clairbourn. And now, Debbie has stepped into a whole different role as the school's newest Trustee.  In order to properly introduce her to the school community, we asked her to share the following information about her life, family, and qualifications:

"I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and I lived in Taipei, Taiwan for one year when I was in Grade 4 and attended Dominican International School. I went through the New York City public school system, attended Stuyvesant High School, and then went to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I met my husband, Chris, while we were students at UPenn. After college, I worked in accounting at PwC in New York and became a CPA before moving to Los Angeles to attend law school at UCLA.

The most challenging part of law school was having to learn how to drive in Los Angeles! I had been taking the subway all over New York by myself (including to school) since I was 14 years old, but I never learned how to drive. My husband thinks it is hard to teach our daughter how to drive, but I think it’s funny that he did manage to teach me, which could not have been any easier. After law school, I worked at a big law firm in Downtown Los Angeles for a number of years until I started working as a lawyer at my current company, Idealab, an incubator of start-up companies located in Old Town Pasadena.

Working close to home has been a great advantage. It has allowed me to be involved with my children’s schools despite working full-time. I have served as a Room Parent at Clairbourn and I have served as a Parent Admissions Tour Guide at Clairbourn. 

Clairbourn is a fantastic school. Both of our children have attended Clairbourn School since Kindergarten. We love how the school emphasizes more than just strong academics—they help shape a child into a caring, socially well-adjusted and ethical individual. Clairbourn kids are nice kids. Class sizes are small, the campus is idyllic and some of my own best friends have come from the close parent community.   We love how we as parents feel so welcome in the community and there are so many opportunities to participate, in whatever capacity you have.
When my kids were in the younger grades, I especially loved the kind teachers, the emphasis on social development in addition to academics, and the fact that they had the opportunity to develop public speaking skills in the Morning Assembly. They are fearless now when it comes to public speaking.
In Middle School, my favorite unique experience has been the exchange program with the Huntingtower school in Melbourne, Australia. Last Fall, our family hosted two middle-schoolers, and it was such a great experience for our entire family. I was so sad when it was time for them to leave. Matthew had the best experience visiting Australia this past Fall to stay with one of the families we hosted. How fortunate he is to have these friends around the world!  
Both of my kids received strong academic backgrounds while at Clairbourn. My daughter adjusted easily to the academic rigor at her current school. Both kids have been able to balance academics with other activities and time with friends. At Clairbourn, my kids learned they should try everything, even if they were still developing ability in that subject. They learned they can play sports, they should be bold and run for Student Council positions, they can join math competitions and yes, they can perform as middle-schoolers in Shakespeare plays.
As a new member of the Clairbourn Board, I hope to be able to apply my background and skills as a lawyer to my role as Trustee. I have experience working with and regularly attending Board of Directors meetings. I have been at the school for a long time and I feel that I understand Clairbourn’s goals and a bit of its history, so I hope to be able to provide valuable feedback and opinions. I would like to help make sure the school successfully adapts, as needed, for the future. I have experienced a wide range of educational options in my life and I hope to add that perspective.
In our free time, our family likes to travel. We went to Italy last summer and visited some big cities, the countryside, and the coast. Matthew’s favorite sandwich in the entire world is in Florence, Italy at All'Antico Vinaio, one of the most reviewed restaurants on TripAdvisor. If you are looking to replicate a little bit of Italy locally, we recommend you visit Eataly in the Century City Mall.

We also enjoy taking vacations closer to home—every year we go camping in the summer near Santa Barbara and that is one of the kids’ favorite trips. We have also recently started playing the board game Settlers of Catan at home and we are having fun learning the strategies of the game. In my personal free time, you may find me at the gym taking a group exercise strength or barre class, reading a best-selling novel on my couch, or having an ice cream at the mall."
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