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#PREPpeople: Dr. Keith Crowley
Posted 03/12/2020 10:41AM

#PREPpeople is one in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John's Prep

Keith Crowley for #PREPpeopleHometown: Southington Conn.

Education: St. Paul Catholic High School (Bristol, Conn.); B.S. and M.S. in physical therapy, Springfield College; Ph.D, educational leadership, Boston College

Years at St. John’s: 9 years

Subject: Principal/Associate Head of School (teaches HS Human Anatomy and Physiology)

Describe a teacher who inspired you growing up: “Sister Marguerite Tarleton. The way English classes my senior year of high school were structured, some of the books we read were taught by different teachers in the department. I only had Sister Marguerite for about a month of class time, but she had a profound impact on me. I will never forget the way she engaged us in the classroom. We read “Too Late the Phalarope,” by Alan Paton, and I remember how she brought the issues in the book to life for us. She challenged us to really think about the book and the themes presented, and to step outside our comfort zones in the way we participated in class and shared our ideas and perspective. She had very high standards; she challenged us to speak up, use evidence to support our ideas, and find our voice in the writing process. What always amazed me was how unassuming she was. You would see her in the hallways and she’d quietly say ‘hello,’ but then she’d get into the classroom and proceed to capture your attention and imagination entirely.”

What made you want to work at a school for a living?: “In college a group of us worked with the campus minister of a local Catholic school to facilitate the junior retreat. At the time, I was focused on being a physical therapist, specializing in orthopedics. My goal was to work in an outpatient clinic and to eventually teach physical therapy. But through the experience of working with students on these retreats, it became clear being an educator was my path. I made sure I expanded my PT program to include what I needed to teach biology and chemistry. As I worked to complete my master’s degree, I began teaching part-time at that same high school and then joined the faculty full-time once I completed my graduate degree. I just felt teaching and coaching was something I was called to do and have never regretted following that call. This year marks my twenty-seventh teaching/working in a Catholic school.”

What experience outside of St. John’s informs your work with students at the Prep?: “Visiting other schools across the country, collaborating with schools within the XBSS network, attending professional learning programs that focus on academic, social and emotional trends in schools, collaborating over the years with a couple of Centers for Catholic Education on the higher education level, attending programs that highlight the voices and experiences of members of traditionally underrepresented groups in non public and Catholic schools, and engaging in dialogue with folks who are outside education to better the opportunities and challenges they are experiencing in their fields and what they are looking for in their employees have proved invaluable. I have been blessed with many professional opportunities that have challenged and encouraged my growth as an educator. Each day I gain valuable insights into myself, the experiences of others, my work, and the human condition. We are all on a journey and, for me, the self-discovery and learning that guides and informs our individual paths is ongoing.”

What’s a concept you look forward to teaching every year and why? “I enjoy the work we do in Human Anatomy and Physiology on the research process. In research teams, students identify a research interest (i.e. what is the effect of classical music on blood pressure in high school aged boys?), do a basic literature review, craft their research methodology, collect and analyze data and discuss/share their results. I feel an experience like this is important for students since research is an essential skill that they will engage in at the college level and beyond. I always enjoy seeing how the students approach this project, the creativity they bring to the process, the depth of thinking they apply, how they work through various research team dynamics and deal with the joys and frustration associated with discovery, as well as develop an appreciation for the scientific method in action.”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do for a living? “Besides physical therapy...social work. I’ve always had a fascination with the field of psychology, the intricacies and power dynamics of human behavior, and social justice. I have great respect for those who work to challenge/alleviate injustice and accompany others,individually or collectively, on their life journey.”

What was 17-year-old you like? “I was the youngest of four (two older brothers and a sister) so I was the only one in the house at the time and I got all the attention—which was a blessing and curse! I was a focused student and enjoyed competing in track & field as well as being involved in campus ministry and co-curricular life at school. I liked to hang out with friends and enjoyed spending time with my family. I worked at Friendly’s as a waiter way back in the day. I also had a part-time job at Blockbuster.”

Fun Fact: “I was involved in drama productions in high school. I ran (slowly) and finished the Ocean State marathon in the early 2000s. And, I competed in track & field in college, throwing the discus, hammer, and shotput.”

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