Humans of Plano West: Robert Croman

Elizabeth Secor, Editor

“I spent the majority of my life as a student. 1st through 12th grade was 12 years and 12 years to get a doctorate, and I was a student for 24 years. You never stop being a student, really. Specifically [I learned}, I guess you have to have patience. You got to be patient with yourself, your students, and your fellow staff.  Patience includes a lot of things. It includes perseverance you got to preserve, and never give up. “


“I was a research engineer with DuPont company in Remington, Delaware, and of course, prior to that, I was a graduate student. This is my 24th year in Plano, and before this, I taught for two years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My wife’s father’s family is from the Plano area, so one by one, they all moved down. So, of course, my wife was on my case to move down here as well. I came down one summer, got a job offer at Richardson, and got a job offer at Plano. So that is how I ended up pushing and pulling myself down to Texas.” 


“I had always thought about teaching, even back in high school, but I was basically into research as well, and the opportunity existed. I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a college professor type or something else. Of course, you need to get a doctorate in order to be a successful college instructor, so after I got done with a stint of researching with DuPont (my area of expertise was fiber reinforced plastics, cold deposit materials plastics reinforced with cleaver fiber, graphite fiber, or glass fiber). I decided, well, now’s my chance, so I cut my teeth, so to say, and began teaching in inner-city Philadelphia.”


“Many of those students [in Philadelphia], they had difficult problems. You can’t blame them for acting out. [One day] I was giving a test on quadratics, and I had a bunch of girls in my algebra II class. They were always talking: it didn’t matter that we were in the middle of a test. They started to remember an incident that they had seen in the public housing projects up there in which they witnessed a knife fight between two girls. And um, the one girl got knifed and the father came down and was holding the girl in his arms saying baby baby, please don’t die, and she did. You talk about emotional, and then I thought, what do quadratic equations mean when you are talking about witnessing life like that? That was emotionally draining. I didn’t know the girl in the incident, but the young ladies that were in my classroom, I knew them. You know, that showed how you’ve got to take things in perspective. You never know what people are dealing with.”


“I always keep that in the back of my mind. Here I am trying to teach physics, but heaven only knows people that are online or have siblings and parents that are holed up in a close environment, you know. Occasionally brothers or sisters or even themselves have had covid. And you always wonder what was it like. Luckily, so far, I’ve been able to avoid it.”


“The other night I said to [my wife], life is not perfect, but it’s pretty good so that I wouldn’t change anything.”