The Prince of Programming

The Prince of Programming

Most teachers begin class with the typical two or three question warm-up, be it a few math problems or a quick writing prompt. Mr. Greenawalt, computer science extraordinaire, is not your run of the mill teacher. His Web Design,  Honors Java Programming, and Advanced  Placement Computer Science students enter class and immediately  get to work on a  group  problem solving puzzle, which can range from building the tallest house of playing cards to  being the fastest at answering a tricky riddle. The word unconventional could be used to describe both Greenawalt’s teaching style and his personal story.

As a student at College Park, Greenawalt did not have teacher on his list of post college plans. But that changed quickly, and unexpectedly. “I became a teacher in the midst of a personal crisis in…I had severe health problems (epilepsy). My health drastically changed my career options, “  he stated in a lunchtime interview.  “It forced me to find a world I could work in while I was being supported by my family.” In turns out that teaching was that world.

Greenawalt started out as a math teacher because he was good at the subject, but for loftier reasons as well. “I believed then and I believe now that young people should be treated as adults, respected and challenged. Teaching gave me an opportunity to build environments for young people that met both of those objectives. It also helps that I loved math,” he commented.

When Greenawalt’s school in Prince George’s County needed a programming teacher, he jumped at the chance. And when his wife got a job in Charles County, it was convenient for him to make that switch too.

Greenawalt’s enthusiasm for his subject is impossible to miss; it radiates from his gestures and  speech. “Through Java (a computer programming language) and other tools, people fight cancer, fight poverty, fight ignorance, and other things I haven’t even imagined. It’s the tool of our modern age,” he said.

In addition to Java, Greenawalt is responsible for educating North Point’s “very young  and talented” web designers. Web Design II is an evolving course that involves an end of the year project of the students’ choosing.

Greenawalt’s students respect him for his deep expertise and willingness to  help them succeed, even if it means his tall, lanky frame is bent over a computer screen for half of lunch troubleshooting coding errors. They also appreciate him for his unique brand of humor. “I think he’s a good teacher and comically socially awkward, but he’s a good person. He always tries to make sure you do your best,” said AP Computer Science and Web Design I student Mike Johnson (‘13).  “I think he’s unintentionally funny,” noted Olivia Johnson (‘14).

In addition to teaching, Greenawalt is the coach of the Computer Bowl team, which uses Java skills in competition with schools from across the region. More surprisingly, in a previous life, he was the coach of Crossland High School’s Poms team. “We were good- in significant measure because I did not choreograph them,” Greenawalt noted with a chuckle.

Greenawalt is married to and has two children: a daughter who is an ER nurse at Civista Hospital and a son who almost certainly has a cooler job than his father- special agent at the Department of State, which until recently involved a position on Hillary Clinton’s security detail.

Nonetheless, it is obvious that Mr. Greenawalt enjoys what he does and plans to keep doing it for some time.