Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Grandfather, grandaughter take classes together at Germanna

History classes at Germanna Community College have become very personal for Culpeper High School graduate Courtney Hall.

Hall, 26, has been taking Germanna classes like American History with her 81-year-old grandfather Larry Corbin, who lived through World War II; fought in the Korean War and lived through the Cold War and saw the Berlin Wall fall; saw America win the race to the moon and sweated out the Cuban Missile Crisis and the war in Vietnam.

Courtney Hall and Larry Corbin

Corbin has been taking advantage of the fact that the Virginia Community College System offers free tuition for senior citizens auditing classes.

To be eligible for free tuition for audit of credit courses or for taking non-credit courses, not to exceed three courses per term, a person must meet the criteria including the following:

Be 60 years of age or older.

Be a legal resident of Virginia.

Be admitted to the college as a student.

Auditing a course requires the approval of the appropriate division chair or director. And there must be an empty seat in the class.


Corbin said he’s enjoyed taking classes at Germanna for a number of reasons, including the fact that in auditing them, he hasn’t had to take tests.
“He leaves taking the tests and writing the papers to me,” Hall said.
“He adds so much to the classroom conversation and participation because he lived in a different era and he’s able to bring so much more to the discussion “ Hall said. “We all read about it and learn about it, but he lived through part of it and can give his perspective, which is neat.”
  “I’m a history buff,” Corbin said.  He said he enjoys interaction with the professors.
He said rather than buying a history book, be pulled one of the volumes of “Six Thousand Years of History,” published in 1899, off his book shelf at home.  “Funny thing is, nothing changed,” Corbin said. “I didn’t see much revisionism.”
 He said his granddaughter and his daughter,  Courtney’s mother Marcie Corbin, who works at Germanna as Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Services, convinced him to start taking classes. He’s taken six so far, including history, sociology and biology.
“It’s her fault and her mother’s fault,” he joked. “They thought maybe I had too much time on my hands and I needed to go do something.”
 “I said, ‘Hey, it’s one night a week,” Hall recalled.
The family lives in the tiny Culpeper County community of Mitchells.
Hall graduated  from Culpeper High in 2005 and went to Virginia Tech, where she earned an associate degree in agriculture.
She soon changed her mind about her career path.
  “I grew up on a farm but I wanted to teach,” she said. “I want to be with the special needs students. In order to do that, I had to start over. She expects to graduate from Germanna in the spring of 2014. She then plans to transfer to the University of Mary Washington.
  While she’s taking classes at GCC, she’s working at Yowell Elementry School as a Para educator   supporting special needs students.
  “I graduated from the school of hard knocks,” said Corbin, who’s originally from Rhode Island, but has lived in Virginia since 1955.
Who Corbin was a high school dropout who earned his GED in the Army, which recognized his potential. He was a sergeant first class, but his superiors saw him as officer material. He earned a year and a half worth of college credit when they had him tested. And they offered to send him to officer candidate school.
 “I said ‘No thanks, but thank you.’ He said the North Korean military targeted officers and “as fast as they could turn out second lieutenants, they were killing them.”
 Before taking history classes together at Germanna, Corbin told his granddaughter little about his time in the military. She said classroom discussion led to him showing her his expert marksman badge, dog tags and other memorabilia.
When he returned to civilian life, he spent 28 years working for the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and moved up fairly quickly. “I did alright,” he said. He said that 40 years ago, he didn’t need a college degree, but couldn’t hold the same jobs now without one.
Corbin jokes that he has to take classes with Hall so he can “keep her in line,” but his pride in his granddaughter is clear. In addition to working with special needs students at Yowell Elementary, she’s been babysitting, given riding lessons, cleaning out horse stalls-- working full time while going to Germanna.  She does all of this because she wants to help children with disabilities.
The feeling is mutual.
 “I’m proud to have him with me,” Hall said. “Not very many people get to take classes with their 81-year-old granddad.

No comments: