By Keatin Reagan
Many students think of history classes as boring, stuffy affairs where one has to memorize endless numbers of places, people, and events that happened decades or centuries ago that they think have no bearing on themselves. But one professor at LSC-Montgomery challenges that stereotype on a daily basis.
“I wanted to go farther west again, and when I heard of Montgomery College (now LSC-Montgomery) via the Internet, or at least what was called the Internet back then,” Livingston said, laughing, “it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Many students no doubt know Livingston’s classroom in building A by the numerous model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, one of his favorite hobbies. Among the wooden models dangling from his ceiling is a model of a World War Two troop glider, and it is a memento of one of the numerous projects and activities he keeps his students involved in. “I like to find excuses to be with students, be it projects, trips, (LSC) Montgomery gives that opportunity. I just love being around my students.” Besides the class project for building the gliders that culminates in a flying contest, he also holds movie nights, where students watch historical films while eating period cuisine.
But his most well-known student activities are his class trips, similar to the one he took nearly 50 students on during Spring Break 2009. The group, which paid their own way, toured Civil War battlefields in Tennessee and Mississippi on the trip, and Livingston plans another for this upcoming Spring Semester. “I’ve already gone out and picked a battlefield to look over, Pea Ridge in Arkansas.”
But Livingston knows that the classroom is the main place where he can impact students, and takes his responsibility very seriously. “I want to go beyond satisfying a requirement for an Associate’s or a transfer.” Livingston said. “I want students to really get the pageantry and drama of history. I like to tell that story, that drama, every day.” He also wants to reinforce equally important practical skills. “I want to help students acquire writing skills, techniques and methods that will get them past that panic that sets in at some point when writing a long research paper.” He doesn’t just do this in his classroom either; he is one of the founders and most active members of the campus writing center, The Write Place.
Nor does Livingston use his boundless energies on just activities related to his teaching. In addition to his model-building, his hobbies include playing the bagpipes, on which he offers free lessons to students, and participating in Lord Stirling’s Fife and Drum Corps, a Revolutionary War-style pipe and drum band dresses in period costume and plays at local events that Livingston helped start.
Even with all these other activities and after fifteen years of daily classes, he is still going strong, and he credits students for this irrepressible attitude. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m starting to experience that burnout that nearly all professors feel at one time or another, then I walk into class and I’m a new man,” Livingston said as he relaxed in his office festooned with even more model airplanes.“ I owe eternal gratitude to students for that unlimited energy.”