Honorary Wolverines: Mr. Clawson

Photo of Thomas Clawson.

Woodgrove English teacher Mr. Clawson shares pieces of his fascinating life and words of wisdom.

When Clawson graduated high school, he had high hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist. However, during his freshman year of college he was faced with an arduous challenge– his number had come up in the draft, calling him to serve in Vietnam.

After serving two tours in the Air Force, Clawson returned home with a change of heart. Hoping to make a positive impact, he sought a career in education, inspired by his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Clayton, “I wanted to have an impact on kids like he had on me,” says Clawson. More than fifty years later, he remembers how Mr. Clayton taught him to take joy in small things and small accomplishments.

After 46 years, Clawson still loves what he does. “It’s the greatest profession I could ever think of… to be able to make a difference in people’s lives and to hope that you’re helping them.” Clawson encourages communication in his classroom, providing an open door to anyone in need.

Clawson also is a college professor. He has taught Literature and Composition, Language and Composition, American Literature, Literary Criticism, Shakespeare, and various English courses. He has taught at Northern Virginia Community College, Shenandoah University, Lord Fairfax College, and Indiana University.

 Clawson was named a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in American Studies. Clawson has also served as a national reader for Advanced Placement literature exams for six years.

Although Clawson has taught at numerous schools, none compare to Woodgrove. “Woodgrove has something special,” states Clawson, “The kids feel close together. I think a lot of it comes down from Dr. Shipp. He truly cares about each and every person in the building and people know that. People are valued and that carries through.”

 Clawson enjoys joking around with his students, “I used to tell kids that I was ninety-five. They’d tell me I look pretty good for ninety-five. If I told them my real age, sixty- eight, they’d be like, ‘Oh what happened to you? you must have had a rough life.’”

Luckily for the students and faculty at Woodgrove, Clawson has no plans of leaving anytime soon. “As long as I’m having fun and feel like I’m helping young people, I’m not going to retire.”