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From juvenile hall to a master’s degree: how one professor’s influence changed a student’s life

There’s a sign in Professor Dr. Don Stanley’s office on campus that reads:  “My job is to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable.” 

 

“I see teaching in that light,” he said. “Most of us are here for the opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life,” Dr. Stanley added, “and one of the greatest rewards I can imagine is a note or a phone call from a student years after they’ve left Lone Star College-North Harris, letting me know they’ve built a good life for themselves.”

 

One of those students, Lynn Langmead, found herself in Dr. Don Stanley’s psychology class.

 

 “Lynn had enrolled in general psychology back in the 1980s,” the professor recalled. “After class one day, she came in to talk to me…and I’ve found, over the years, there are some students who really need–and want–to talk. During our conversations, I learned she was coming from a difficult family background. She was having difficulty coping with her losses, her situation, and, at some point, Lynn became an adopted daughter, informally of course.”

 

Dr. Stanley, in his third decade as professor of psychology at Lone Star College-North Harris, remembered the talented-but-troubled young woman. Her father and her brother had committed suicide. Her best friend had been killed. Her mother had money problems. After her father’s death, the youngster acted out her angst by skipping school, stealing, and spray painting graffiti on school buildings. But, rather than heeding her frenzied cry for help, her teachers labeled her a “habitual problem” and she eventually landed in juvenile detention.

 

Life was a mess.

 

 “As a kid, I was ready to die…that’s all I wanted,” remembered Lynn Langmead, now a forensics and investigational photographer who divides her time between Houston and assignments on both coasts. “And, if I didn’t have the courage to kill myself, I was certainly trying to accomplish it with drugs and alcohol.”

 

“He put me under his wing,” she said. “He stepped from behind his lectern, saw my situation and took an interest. I mean he really cared…and were it not for him and a few other teachers along the way, I would have been dead in a ditch before my 21st birthday.”     

 

The now successful photographer, whose work has been featured in several gallery exhibitions, affirms the professor’s role in her success in completing two associate’s degrees. “I kept changing my major, so I had enough credits for two degrees–but because of Dr. Stanley and others who took the time to listen–and care about me, I completed my courses and went back to Sam Houston State University where I earned degrees in criminal justice and forensic photography.

 

“I struggled in my studies,” Langmead admitted, “because of the time I spent at the detention hall where very little time was spent teaching and learning. At Lone Star College-North Harris, a math teacher -- Charlotte Champagne–tutored me in algebra at her house after class because I’d had no math. It’s still amazing to me that I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Stanley and other professors really care about helping me succeed. These teachers also showed me there was another way…a better way.

 

During her 17 years as an employee for Continental Airlines, Langmead enjoyed flight benefits that allowed her to do various photography assignments as well as forensics photography for a Houston company specializing in mass casualty management. Langmead’s photography has since gained recognition in several national calendars and the National Photography Institute. Through her work, her passion and life goal is to educate children in the importance of the preservation and protection of the environment and global wildlife.

 

“I want to give back, to help kids...like people helped me at a very impressionable time in my life,” she explained. “I still have great people–like Don Stanley–in my life. I just wish every kid, but especially troubled ones, instinctively knew that life does get better…and if you wait, it gets better the next day.”

 

 “Here I am, almost 30 years later–fortunate enough to be working in Beverly Hills and it’s due to Dr. Stanley, Charlotte Champagne, and some very other special teachers. But, Dr. Stanley was right there to listen when I tried to give up…and I’ve never forgotten him–on birthdays, Christmas and Father’s Day. In a way, he took on this teacher-father role and, frankly, I was surprised people wanted to help me because of what happened to me in high school. But, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, were it not for him.”

 

 To see some of Langmead’s photography visit: http://www.photographybylynn.com/.

 

Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit: NorthHarris.LoneStar.edu.

 

Lone Star College System consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Center, LSC-University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. With more than 51,000 students in credit classes last fall, LSCS is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and third largest community college system in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.                                               

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Oct. 9, 2009

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

 

Media Contact:

C.C. Sutphen

281.618.5425, desk

281.639.6381, cell