STUDENT SPOTLIGHT – The Crosbys: Foundations of Urbana

Jack Crosby and his father, Mr. Crosby, and their impact on UHS


Jack Crosby

Mr. Crosby and his son, Jack | Feb. 23, 2023

Audrey Dean, Reporter

The halls of Urbana are dead silent and desolate. The linoleum stairway opens to an empty floor; the school is left behind for the day. On the edge of the balcony, a few banners adorn the tiled walls. A blue banner stands alone, titled ‘Teacher of the Year’. Only one name is listed: Norm Crosby.

To anyone but the seniors, this name may seem like a thing of the past. But Mr. Crosby was an integral part to Urbana’s growth. His impact on this school is still breathing.

Mr. Crosby was a teacher here since the school’s opening in 1995. Regardless of any changes in the school since, of which there were many, Mr. Crosby was a constant.

The banner hanging in the hallway featuring Mr. Crosby’s name

Students adored his teaching style. As he lectured about his favourite president, Harry Truman, complete with a full biography, a sea of students would erupt into laughter. Although he preferred the traditional lecture method, Mr. Crosby’s true passion for history radiated from him with every word. He kept everyone engaged by putting on voices, acting out historical events, and wanted the students to get a sense of the time period. His method focussed on immersing students to experience its impact. Paying attention was easy – he accomplished the impossible task of making history fun.

More than that, he enjoyed sharing his personal experiences with the class. “Famously, he had a story about the rainbow striped vest that he lost at a party, which he told to every class. In the chaos, he forgot it and it was lost to time, never to be seen again. He adored that vest and misses it every day” his former student, and my sister, Olivia Dean, recalls the story with a smile to me. Personal anecdotes such as this crowned his teaching style as personal to every student. More than just a figurehead of a classroom, he was relatable and funny. This infectious enthusiasm is what drew students to him the most.

His knowledge of history was boundless, and left students wondering how he could even remember all of this information. Yet, he always remained humble, shying from the spotlight and preferring to accredit the other history teachers for their excellent work.

He valued his students’ futures and accomplishments, more than just their education. He had “almost 100 pennants from colleges and universities across the country hanging from the ceiling” in his classroom. If you “point out a pennant… Crosby can name the student who attended that school and in some cases where he or she works today” (Ames). Any opportunity to remind students of their potential was one to be taken. Investment in his students was a given to Mr. Crosby. He was their friend, their mentor, and their role model.

Mr. Crosby’s impact on his students went far beyond the classroom. Many of his former students credit him with inspiring their love of history and shaping their academic and professional goals. His infectious enthusiasm and dedication to his craft left a lasting impression on all who had the privilege of learning from him.

“Everybody saw him as such a cool person. When I came here as a kid, people would stop me and say, ‘oh my god, Mr. Crosby’s your dad?’ I would feel so cool” His son, Jack Crosby, fondly recalls. As a veteran of the school, Mr. Crosby had the opportunity to make impacts on many.

But there are those who had an impact on him, too. Mr. Kavanaugh taught Spanish and Philosophy here for over 30 years, and found that teaching was his true passion. This veteran status and love for teaching were some of many things he had in common with his best friend, Mr. Crosby. Mr. Crosby learned many great lessons from Mr. Kavanaugh which he continues to value.

Former student and current teacher, Ms. Johnson recalls “Mr. Kavanaugh would shout across the hallway. ‘Crosby! I have a question’ – and Mr. Crosby would come in and shout ‘what?’. They were a duo, always involved in each other’s classes”. They were the closest of friends, bouncing off of each other effortlessly, and they became a part of their respective families. Mr. Crosby and Mr. Kavanaugh were an uplifting alliance in the history department.

On Thursday, November 5, 2020, Mr. Kavanaugh passed away in his home. Mr. Crosby retired a few semesters after.

“I felt attached [to this school] up until he left. Once he was gone, I think all of my attachment to the school also went with it. Because that was an end of an era. And, honestly, the end of my childhood,” Jack Crosby said. “Things were different from how I remembered them my whole life. So that’s why I feel that I don’t really know this place anymore”.
The loss of Mr. Kavanaugh and Mr. Crosby is a glaring hole in the school which will never be filled. But not all is lost.

Jack Crosby works to uphold his father’s legacy in this school. “I have grown up with such a compassionate and loving family that isn’t afraid to show affection, and I think it also reflected upon me as a character. So, that’s why I take pride in compassion and getting to know someone. To be a good role model like my dad.”

I felt attached [to this school] up until he left. Once he was gone, I think all of my attachment to the school also went with it. Because that was an end of an era. And, honestly, the end of my childhood

— Jack Crosby

“ I really do love history. I was never that great at it, but growing up, I always thought it was fascinating. I really have an appreciation for it now that I’m older, and that’s thanks to my dad” – not only does Mr. Crosby inspire his son to be a better person, but he has planted a seed for a love of history in him, too.

These are the things that Mr. Crosby truly cared to represent. Although his sign outside of his room is replaced with another, and the banners no longer hang in that classroom, everything he stood for is still alive in Urbana.

Now, Mr. Crosby enjoys collecting history books for his family library. “Our whole entire library is filled with historical books. And every Christmas, every birthday, every Father’s Day, he gets six new historical books that he’ll finish throughout the year. And then he’ll always have more that he wants to read. He’s been reading his way through retirement,” says Jack Crosby. Nothing could shake a love for history from him, and, most of all, a desire to educate: “He has endless knowledge about anything in history. Which is always so fun. Because whenever I have a question about anything, he will be like, ‘Okay, here’s a rundown’ and give me a lecture’”.

Mr. Crosby takes his time to remember his history. It’s time to remember ours, and people whose shoulders we stand upon.

Works Cited

Ames, Blair. “Crosby Named Teacher of the Year.” The Frederick News Post , FNP Printing and Publishing., 11 Mar. 2016,,Norm%20Crosby%20teaches%20his%20American%20history%20class%20Tuesday%20at%20Urbana,three%20walls%20in%20his%20classroom.