Gary Crump, CAS ’21, UB Teacher Residency Program
Gary Crump, CAS ’21, remembers when his uncle asked him after his 6th grade graduation what he wanted to be. He said, “A lawyer.” His uncle told him that he would be in school a long time, to which he replied, “That’s alright. I’ve got plenty of time.”
This philosophy still guides Crump today and is evidenced in his lifelong professional development. Crump proclaims he is “a proud product of the projects,” referring to growing up in Mitchel Houses in the South Bronx during the heyday of 1980s Hip-Hop culture, and a neighborhood that boasts several college and pro basketball players and coaches. But Crump was different. “I was a scrub,” he says laughing about his below average basketball skills, “but was regarded as one of the smartest in the projects.”
Being smart paid off. Crump was tapped by A Better Chance, a nonprofit organization that helps talented young people of color to attend high-achieving boarding, day and public schools in the United States. He was sent to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, which proved to be a great experience but not without some culture shock while he adjusted to a school where most students were white.
Crump then went on to earn a B.A. in history and a minor in Spanish from Wesleyan University. After graduating from Case Western Reserve University with a law degree, Crump chose not to practice law; instead, he spent 17 years providing paralegal work to a high-profile team of seasoned defense lawyers who provided legal representation for those who could not afford it. One federal case took Crump back to the South Bronx near Mitchel Houses. The sentences that were handed down for the three young men, who were Black and Hispanic, convinced him of the disparities in the criminal justice system for people of color. It was then that he began to focus on crime prevention through education, and subsequently found UB’s teacher residency program.
When asked how he chose to enroll in the Teacher Residency Program through UB’s Graduate School of Education, Gary calls it, “Divine intervention. Serendipity.”
The program appealed to Crump “because of the notions of equity, diversity and justice.” He notes that only 2% of social studies educators across the country are Black males.
Now in his second year teaching at Frederick Law Olmsted School in Buffalo, Crump’s focus is always on the students. “I remind myself each and every day that no matter what else happens around me, I’m here for them.”
He excels at creating relevant content and bringing the real world into the classroom. Whether it’s discussing the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, geography, civics, or the economy, his goal is to “get [students] to see that these subjects have practical implications in their lives, today.”
Crump is combining his previous experience with the knowledge gained from the teacher residency program to set a path for his students that he also walked down. With Crump in the classroom, more students can also confidently say, “I’ve got plenty of time.”