The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South professor was student on day one

By Adam Dodson/reporter

On the day Tarrant County Junior College opened the doors of its first campus in 1967, if someone would have told first-year student David Clinkscale that nearly 50 years later he’d retire after almost 40 of those years spent teaching government and history right there at that same campus, he would’ve stopped singing folk songs with his buddies just to have a good laugh.

That is exactly what happened, however. And so, like a base runner about to touch home plate after rounding third, Clinkscale’s journey has now come full circle. This month, he will end his career on the same South Campus where it began nearly five decades ago.

South government associate professor David Clinkscale started as a student the first day TCC opened and scored a full-time job in 1977.
South government associate professor David Clinkscale started as a student the first day TCC opened and scored a full-time job in 1977.

Clinkscale has treasured his association with Tarrant County College.

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I consider that I’ve had the best job in the world since I was 28 years old,” he said. “I’m very proud of the fact that I was part of that initial class.”

But he does recall South Campus’ first day, and first semester for that matter, being chock full of excitement, bad weather and mud. Lots of mud.

“I remember that I had bought an umbrella, and I was in that east parking lot. And, you know, it was raining and the wind was blowing. And I inched that umbrella out the door of the car and opened it up, and it just kept going,” he chuckled. “It was crazy. There were people everywhere. And mud everywhere. It rained like nobody’s business that whole semester. The wind started blowing the first day of class and stopped on the last day of finals.”

Now having been on the faculty side of things for so long, he has an even greater appreciation for the job everyone did during those early years.

“I’m sure that the faculty and the administrators felt like they were building an airplane that they were trying to fly at the same time,” he said.

Clinkscale grew up in Burleson, and even though he had to pay the out-of-county tuition, making it $6 a semester hour instead of the $4 he would’ve paid if he were in the county, he thinks the two years he spent as a student at TCJC were “extraordinarily well spent.”

“For many of us who had been educated in Texas public schools that often had a very closed view of the world, this really was some big stuff, a broadening of our horizons,” he said.

Clinkscale's daughter, English instructor Rebekah Clinkscale-Grubbs, works on South too.
Clinkscale’s daughter, English instructor Rebekah Clinkscale-Grubbs, works on South too.

After attending TCJC, Clinkscale and his then-girlfriend and now wife Karen, transferred to what is now Texas State University, where he got his degree. He later got a fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Missouri. With the fellowship running out and a child on the way, they both decided to return.

Clinkscale was busy unloading trucks at the old Montgomery Ward warehouse on West 7th Street in Fort Worth for $3.75 an hour before he was hired on as a social worker. Two years later, he answered an ad for an adjunct job teaching government on NE Campus and got it. He had no teaching experience prior to that day.

“I had from Thursday to that next Tuesday to literally become a teacher, so that first semester was a real adventure,” he said. “I stayed about 15 minutes ahead of the class the whole time. But that’s fine because it taught me to be a teacher, and it forced me to be disciplined and prepared.”

In 1977, he got a full-time job teaching government on NW. After developing his Texas History course, he ended up teaching that and government for the rest of his career. In 1988, he transferred to South, where he’s been ever since.

The thing he says he is most proud of is his students.

“The students who come into my classes and go out, regardless of what grade they make, better citizens more informed about their history and in that sense more connected to who they are,” Clinkscale said.

He said he was definitely partial to one student in particular — his daughter, Rebekah Clinkscale-Grubbs, an English instructor on South since 2007. She said students often ask if she’s his daughter.

“Inevitably, when I say that I am, the student will reply with ‘He’s such an awesome teacher!’ or ‘He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had,’” she said. “Needless to say, it makes me very proud to be his daughter. I don’t know another TCC professor who is as universally respected as he is by students, fellow faculty, staff and administration alike. He is an incredible role model.”

In 1984, at a time when not many community college professors were being recognized in that way, he was named a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor, an award given to the top 10 professors in Texas. He also received TCC’s Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching in 2000.

Clinkscale said the most interesting class of his career was a collaborative course in the 1990s where a student received dual credit for Texas History and American Literature. He taught it simultaneously with English teacher Loy Taylor.

“It was just some of the best teaching I’ve ever done,” Clinkscale said. “Loy and I were not territorial with regard to our disciplines. If he wanted to slop over into history and I wanted to slop over into English, we did. And we checked our egos at the door.”

Even after all these years and on the eve of his retirement, Clinkscale is still going strong. He just got back from his once-a-semester field trip, this time in Palo Duro Canyon with 45 of his students and their families. These experiences, ones that provided the chance to interact with his students without the time constraints present in the classroom, have to be the best memories of his career.

“Over the years, it’s been my practice in my Texas history classes to take my students on field trips,” he said. “And those have been some of the most rewarding teaching experiences that I’ve had.”

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