In 1982, Dr. Robert L. Crabtree came from the University of Miami as a postdoc to teach AP Biology at RE. But do you know how he got the nickname “Doc?” Read on to find out.
RE: You’ve got to tell us how you got “Doc” as a nickname.
DC: “My first year at RE, one of the first students I met on campus was Callie Flipse ’84. I walked into the cafeteria during lunch time one day and saw the swim team sitting together. They always ate together as a group. I went up to them and asked if they’d mind if I sat with them. After a few weeks, Callie said, “Is it okay if we just call you Doc?”
RE: Where did you grow up?
DC: I was born in Lancaster, Ohio then moved to Wooster, Ohio. I graduated from Wooster High School in 1966 and went to Ohio State for a little over two years. I didn’t want to be pre-med and the classes were enormous - there were 200-300 kids in each lecture! I transferred to Wooster College my junior year where I was a track and field athlete.
RE: What did you do after you graduated?
DC: I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I worked in Minnesota for a bit then went back to Wooster and worked at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, where I was a full fledged union member. I went to grad school at Ohio University and got a Masters in Zoology, then got a PhD in neurobiology from Clark University in Wooster, Massachusetts.
RE: How did you end up in Miami?
DC: I was at the University of Miami for five years in post doctoral programs. My second and third years I received an NIH postdoc fellowship and became a visiting assistant professor at UM where I taught anatomy and physiology to nurses and medical tech students, then neuro biology to physical therapy students.
RE: When did you know you wanted to become a teacher?
DC: My advisor at Ohio State once asked me what I wanted to do with an advanced degree. I really liked the teaching aspect – I understand that research is important, but I really liked to teach.
RE: How did you come to RE from UM?
DC: I knew the department chair at RE who told me I could continue to teach at the level I was teaching at the time. I interviewed with Mrs. Lester, and the rest is history.
RE: You acted as the co-chair of the science department and you also taught other subjects. What were they?
DC: Yes, primarily I taught AP Biology, but I also taught introduction to chemistry and anatomy/physiology.
RE: And you coached as well.
DC: Many people might now know I was once the director of the RE Summer Day Camp! I was assistant cross country coach under Owen Paris then head coach of the girls’ cross country team. After that I was assistant track coach under Mike Stokes and became head track coach when Mike retired. And finally, before I retired in 2018, I assisted Coach Eric Lefebvre with water polo.
RE: Tell us about your family.
DC: I met my wife Sharon at UM where she was studying in the geology department. She works at the Department of Environmental Resource Management. I have two daughters who attended RE, Nicole ’04 and Robyn ’09.
RE: What was your favorite part about teaching at RE?
DC: I think overall it was teaching kids who you could interact with. The kids were fascinating, very serious about what they were doing, and really put you to the test and challenged you to do your best. We had very high standards for the students and tried to remind them that their work wasn’t about college acceptance, but were they enjoying the process and learning? I really enjoyed coaching also.
RE: What have you been up to in retirement?
DC: I began an interest in mountain biking and participated in a lot of biking events. I’ve spent 1,600 hours of volunteering at the trails on Virginia Key. I have a granddaughter and enjoy spending time with my girls. I travel and get back to Ohio once a year and visit old friends from high school. I follow the Miami Hurricanes.
RE: What do you miss the most about RE?
DC: I miss the daily interaction with the students. It’s like what Dan Leslie Bowden said at his commencement speech. He said, “I miss you.”