News & Stories
Wabash Community Contributes to Crawfordsville Life
by John Dykstra '12
|20 October 2010
Professor of Mathematics Chad Westphal and long-time Crawfordsville high school teacher Helen Hudson discussed their contributions to the Crawfordsville community Tuesday night. Hudson, wife of Wabash English professor Marc Hudson, aided the renovations to the local Amtrak station while Westphal has been involved in the building of the new Crawfordsville skate park, a project which has raised more than $200,000 in four years.
Hudson’s association with Amtrak was sparked by her teaching of problem-based learning. Amtrak became her target after she realized the train station has been, to most, the first impression of Crawfordsville. Her project received recognition on the national level, giving her students a train ride to Washington D.C. to meet with U.S. Senators.
“Problem-based learning is a concept to give voice to something utterly essential in our democratic society,” she said. “Amtrak is probably the poster-child of problem based learning for Crawfordsville. My goal was to encourage my students to become active regionally and nationally as public policy advocates, advocating public transportation. This is not a political issue; it is a national issue.”
Westphal’s contribution to the skate park project evolved from eating at Applebee’s for a fundraiser to being the general contractor. Westphal, a skateboarder since 1987, said his interest in the project was aroused by the lack of skate parks in towns he lived in.
“My family has a long history of living in larger cities,” he said. “When I came and saw this project, I immediately saw myself as one of the kids that were around. It was a proverbial no-brainer that I am now a grown-up and that I am on the other side. It was entertaining to me that I can help give the youth something I did not have.”
Hudson and Westphal both expressed how the size of Crawfordsville made it easier to contribute to the community and to establish connections through communication.
“Having lived in bigger states for most of my life, I have learned through this that is easier to make a bigger difference in a small town,” Westphal said. “And for a town the size of Crawfordsville, a skate park and Amtrak station is a big deal.
Westphal also related his interactions with members of the community and his service to the liberal arts.
“It is the mission of the liberal arts experience,” he said. “Like Wabash, you are not gaining very specific skills because you know that in six years from now you are going to use them on a job. You are gaining skills here that are broadly used in whatever you end up doing, even if it is something as senseless as skateboarding.”
In photo: Chad Westphal in the classroom.