By JANET HEIM
The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — “I think when you love something, it goes so quickly you don’t realize it. I love it,” psychology professor Vaughn Crowl said of his 44 years teaching, 41 of them at Hagerstown Community College.
He has the distinction of currently being the longest-serving full-time employee at the college.
Crowl was 21 when he began teaching and coaching at South Hagerstown High School, then began his tenure at what was then Hagerstown Junior College.
As he approaches a milestone birthday, Crowl said it seemed like a good time to close this chapter and begin another.
He will retire on Jan. 1, 2012, his 65th birthday, with nothing but positive things to say about his career choice.
“What a great profession. What a great way to spend your life,” said Crowl, who is known as “Dr. C” by his students.
He said it was the “very enthusiastic” teachers he had at Boonsboro High School, where he graduated in 1964, that put him on the path to teaching.
“Positive emotions are contagious,” Crowl said.
While in college, he was open to other career options, but Crowl said he never found anything he wanted to do as much as teach. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Frostburg State University, three graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a doctorate from American University in Washington, D.C., — 17 consecutive years of graduate school.
“I always learn something to bring back to students,” Crowl said of his continuing education.
He said he had offers to teach at four-year colleges, but always loved HCC and the “very collegial” atmosphere on campus.
He’s also taught at Hood College in Frederick, Md., for 10 years, has been an adjunct professor at American University, and worked part time at Brook Lane since 1996.
Crowl grew up in Rohrersville in a home with no indoor plumbing, but with a family of railroaders who had a strong work ethic, valued education and cared for each other.
“My parents lived unconditional love. They were an example of that. They thought I could do anything,” Crowl said. “If you’ve had the advantage of a loving family, you’ve had everything you need.
“We grew up without a lot of economic advantages, but we never knew. We lived in the country and helped each other out.”
In honor of Crowl’s retirement and his impact at HCC, a campuswide project entitled “44 Ways to Change the World” was initiated. His psychology students have been doing “Change the World” projects since Crowl started teaching at HCC.
“I always thought giving back to your community was part of your obligation,” Crowl said. “An educated person sees life as bigger than themselves — it’s not for me, but for us.”
Current and former students, alumni, faculty and staff members were asked to undertake group or individual service projects in Crowl’s honor, with work documented through photos and brief written summaries to be compiled in several scrapbooks.
The scrapbooks, which also included stories of how Crowl encouraged students to do community service, as well as other ways he inspired them, were presented to Crowl on Oct. 27.
In his “retirement,” Crowl plans to take a semester off, then take some classes himself. But he knows teaching is in his blood, and most likely will continue to teach as an adjunct professor and be involved with the Learning Community and Kepler Scholar Program, which encourages student leadership.
He and Cindy, his wife of two years, live in Hagerstown but eventually will move to the house they are remodeling in Rohrersville. Crowl’s son and two grandchildren live in Richmond, and his daughter is in California.
Crowl said he and Cindy have things they’d like to do together, which also prompted his retirement decision.
“Teaching is a calling and a lifestyle. It’s a divine assignment, really,” Crowl said. “God has blessed me beyond belief. It’s hard to express in words.”
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)