Sometimes people stumble onto their calling in life. Such is the case of Charles A. Plauger, a mathematics teacher at Randolph-Macon Academy.
While working on his physics degree at Frostburg State University--where he also played baseball for two seasons--Mr. Plauger performed some carpentry work for school district in his hometown of Oakland, MD. As his college graduation approached in the fall of 1996, a teaching position opened up at Southern Garrett High School in Oakland, MD, the same high school from which he graduated. A member of the Board of Education contacted him to ask if he would like to teach that fall.
“I said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a try,’” he recalls. “I liked it, and they liked me, so they sent me back to work on my teaching certification.”
During his 13 years at Southern Garrett, many of Mr. Plauger’s former teachers became mentors to him, wanting to help him succeed in his unexpected career, and he sought their advice often, taking their words to heart.
“They told me that, what would help most with teaching and classroom management, is when kids see that you care,” he says. “And you show you care by showing up.” At Southern Garrett, his students certainly noticed he cared; they nominated him for the Who’s Who Among High School Teachers award on three different occasions.
Desiring slightly more moderate winters, he and his family moved to Woodstock, VA in 2011, and it was then that he began his work in the private schools. From the fall of 2011-13, he taught middle school mathematics at Community Christian School, and from the summer of 2012-18, he taught physics and mathematics at Massanutten Military Academy, both in Woodstock, VA. The 2014 school year was an exception, in which he returned to the public schools to teach physics at Sherando High School, in Stephens City, VA, filling in for a teacher who was taking a one-year sabbatical.
Like most teachers, Mr. Plauger enjoys watching the lightbulb go on for students, that moment when they grasp the concept being taught, but that is not the primary reason he teaches. Nor is it because he thrives on taking something complex and making it simple so that students can understand it--although both of these factors certainly add to the joy of his career.
“It’s the next generation. You’re sharing with them what you’ve learned,” he explains. “You want to see them be successful. You’re there for the kids. It’s not about you. It’s about giving, it’s about doing something productive in society, doing something meaningful with your life.”
With the move to R-MA, Mr. Plauger is teaching exclusively math--which, with the Academy’s focus on project-based learning, can be challenging, but Mr. Plauger has an attack plan ready. “I try to learn and discover what works through experience, research, and collaborating with others who are doing the same,” he says. “I want to do activities, but I want to make sure they’re meaningful. I try to find meaningful ways to include technology. The calculator should not do the work for you; you need to understand the math behind it.”
During his time in Virginia, Mr. Plauger completed his master’s degree in educational leadership at Regent University, graduating with magna cum laude honors in 2013. His hobbies include collecting vinyl records, classic cars, and reading books on theology. He and his wife reside in Woodstock, VA, attend Grace Reformed Church at Fisher’s Hill, and have three children, the oldest of which attends James Madison University.
- M.Ed. Educational Leadership, Regent University
- B.S. Physics, Frostburg State University
- Courses: Pre-Calculus, Transition to College Math & Statistics
- R-MA Mentor