Jean Donald, Science Laboratory Supervisor - Decatur Campus

Some of My Favorite Memories


Run Away Mental Patients

The mental institution, Georgia Regional Hospital, is just a city block up the road from the Decatur Campus. In the 70's and 80's, it was not unusual for one or more of the Regional patrons to slip away from their confines and visit our campus. We called them "run aways."


I was teaching a night Biology lab in the early 80's, and Dick Clow, History Professor, was teaching across the hall from the lab. One evening he walked into my lab class and told me that he had a student that laughed at every topic on which he has spoken regardless of the tragedy. He pondered as to how the student could see tragic events as humorous, but thought there was some other explanation to this studentís enjoyment in History.


Dick gave his students a break halfway through the class. When the students came back, that same student continued to laugh at everything said in class. Finally the light dawned and Dick realized that something wasn't right with the student. He calmly walked back into my lab class and requested that I call security because he thought he had a run away from the mental hospital.


Sure enough, the so-called student was indeed a run away and having the time of his life in Dick's class. Dick never knew he was so funny lecturing.


A Fake Student

Also during this time (early 80's), we had one "student" that attended a variety of classes for several quarters. One day, she went on a rampage; yelling and cussing at everyone in the hallway. Mostly yelling nonsense.


After security had taken her away, we found out that she was actually another "run away" from Georgia Regional and not a "real" student. She had forgotten to take her medication that day.


She had never registered for a class since she was not in the system but she was very prompt in showing up for the first day of class. Her instructors primarily thought it was a paper mix-up as to why she was not on their class roll. Imagine how far she might have gone if she had only taken her medication that day!


Backs and Cracks

One afternoon in the SGA office, the Student Activities Director and her secretary had discovered a poster of nude women riding bicycles. The women were riding off into the sunset so the poster only provided a back view of the women.I visited them shortly after they found the poster. Not knowing what to do with the poster, the secretary suggested that we pull a prank on one of the more popular professors.


Hartwell Quinn taught history on Decatur campus and liked to use maps in his lectures. The secretary suggested that we tape the poster to a map that he would use the next day. It was my job to find out which map he would be using. Very late that afternoon, we went into his classroom, found the map, taped the picture to the map and then turned a few pages back over.


The next day, the three of us stood outside Hartwell's classroom door and peeped in, watching as he flipped the map pages to the one with the poster attached. You can definitely say that he was in shock to see "backs and cracks" hanging on his map. He immediately dismissed class then took the poster to his office and shut his door for the rest of the afternoon. He tried very hard for many years afterwards to find out who had done this to him. He never found out. It was one of the best-kept secrets on campus. We never saw the poster again but rumor has it that he kept it for many years.



Sanko and the Flying Chair

George Sanko began teaching on Clarkston campus when the college opened in '64, and he was one of the most beloved instructors in the college. For many years I had heard of his unusual teaching style.


He would berate his students and throw things at them if they answered questions incorrectly. Still, the students loved him and would come back for more. Even if you ask a student that attended the college in the 60's as to which professor they remember the most, Sanko's name would be the first from their mouth. Sanko finally retired from full-time teaching and came to the Decatur campus in 1990 to begin work on the GPC Native Plant Botanical Garden.


I had never really met Sanko until he came to our campus even though I had been a part of the Science department since 1978.At our first meeting,I noticed that he had a broken wrist. I asked what happened and he said that he had thrown a chair in class and it bounced off the wall and hit him in the wrist. My first thought was "Yeah, right throwing a chair in class!" That's a little far fetched for me even with his reputation for throwing things.


During this time, I had a student in my lab that had Sanko and he confirmed that it was true. He was in Sanko's class when it happened. Amazingly, this student had come to our campus from Clarkston just to take more classes from Sanko. We had many students that followed Sanko to Decatur wanting more of his unusual teaching style. They just could not get enough of him.


Sanko no longer teaches classes but gives speeches throughout the US on Native Plants. People come from all over to hear him talk. Sanko no longer throws things but he sure can splinter a meter stick into a hundred pieces. He bangs it so hard on the desks or instructor's table that you usually have to duck to avoid the pieces flying around in the room. Never a dull moment in Sanko's classroom and don't even think about trying to snooze!