The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) honored Criminal Justice Instructor John Delabrer, of Leonardtown, with the college’s 2018-2019 Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award. The award, which was presented at CSM’s Winter Commencement, honors adjunct faculty for outstanding achievement in classroom teaching, contributions both to their department and the college, professional development and community commitment.
“I was a little shocked,” Delabrer said. “But it’s nice to get a pat on the back.”
“John takes his job teaching criminal justice very seriously, and it shows,” said Dr. Sarah E. Merranko, a CSM professor in the Department of Communication, Arts and Humanities, when she presented Delabrer with the award. “He works hard to relate each lesson with either the student’s life or the life they will lead in law enforcement.”
Delabrer has been teaching at CSM for close to 11 years. He is also a public safety officer on the college’s Leonardtown Campus. “I love it,” Delabrer said of his dual roles at the college. “Students see me putting into practice what I teach in the classroom.”
Delabrer came to CSM with a wealth of relevant experience. He is a retired Prince George’s County police officer who worked as a sergeant in charge of community policing.
“He is a highly decorated police officer with an enviable record of accomplishment and courage,” said CSM Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Professor William “Ed” Moroney, curriculum coordinator for Delabrer’s department. Moroney, also a retired Prince George’s County police sergeant and Marine veteran, was among those who nominated Delabrer for the award.
Delabrer “is considered my primary go-to instructor in Leonardtown who always steps forward when I require assistance,” Moroney said. “He is second to none as evaluated by his numerous students over the years. His classroom skills are exceptional. Additionally, he is a natural in the classroom and always manages to establish a rapport and academic relationship with his students.”
CSM Lead Student Success Coordinator Beverly Russell also recommended Delabrer for the award, noting his commitment to the students’ experiences at CSM and the college’s mission.
“John is a master of collaboration at CSM both in and out of his classroom. He believes in teamwork, partnerships and bringing together people who can get an initiation moving. Examples [include] connecting his [criminal justice] students with law enforcement entities in the tri-county area. It is good experience for the students and those entities can promote for employment,” Russell said. “John is one of the first to volunteer for our on-campus Try College for a Day an event we host at the Leonardtown Campus with Fairlead Academy from [St. Mary’s County Public Schools]. He does an interactive workshop with these young students that gets them excited about the idea of coming to CSM and following a Criminal Law/Justice program track. He is rich in firsthand experience from being a retired police officer and he shares that with his students.”
Delabrer created and serves as the adviser for the CSM Criminal Justice Club at the college’s Leonardtown Campus. This club gives students the opportunity to help their community and to explore the criminal justice field.
The idea for the club arose after the Great Mills High School shooting in March 2018. Delabrer had asked his students to create projects that could potentially lessen the chance of school shootings in a community.
“The projects were so good, but there was no way we could do them within a semester time frame,” he said. Delabrer said he started the club to allow students to pursue some of those longer-range projects.
Delabrer has encouraged experiential learning opportunities through the club at various locations, including Farming 4 Hunger in Calvert County, which utilizes inmates to help maintain the farm. These community service opportunities help foster “the feeling of doing for their community,” he explained. “I want them to give back to the community and try to teach them to keep giving back to the community, because that builds trust.”
Through the club and in the classroom, Delabrer said that his primary goal is to teach his criminal justice students to consider everyone else’s perspective. “The number one thing is to open their eyes so they see there are more points of view than just theirs,” he said. “It’s important to keep an open mind when settling disputes or gathering evidence.”
“Professor Delabrer has always been an amazing, hardworking and inspirational role model, and I have learned so much from him,” said Brenna Hudson, a CSM criminal justice student who serves as the current president of the college’s Criminal Justice Club.
“I will take everything I have learned from Professor Delabrer into my future career as a police officer,” she added. “He is not afraid to say he doesn’t know the answer to a question. He will say ‘Well, let’s learn together.’ To me, that is the professor I want teaching me. Professor Delabrer is always readily available to meet or talk about school, career and is always a huge help.”
In addition to receiving this year’s CSM Adjunct Faculty Award. Delabrer also received the CSM Advisor of the Year award in 2017 for his work with the Criminal Justice Club. And the club was awarded CSM’s Club of the Year Award this year. In addition, Delabrer was honored as Officer of the Year for CSM in 2018 for his work as a public safety officer.
“I enjoy my job because I like talking to people,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to know you’re helping people.”
Over the last 26 years, Delabrer has also helped coach baseball teams ranging from Little League through the high school level, including at Leonardtown High School. Before working at CSM and the Prince George’s County Police, he served in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Structural Mechanic-Equipment (AME) for four years, working on safety equipment in airplanes. He has been married for 26 years to April Delabrer, who, like himself is a retired Prince George’s County police officer who also serves as adjunct faculty at CSM and teaches at Leonardtown High School. They have two daughters and one son, and their son is just a few courses away from graduating with an associate degree in criminal justice at CSM, on track to follow in his parents’ footsteps and serve as a police officer.
For information on CSM’s Faculty Excellence Awards and previous awardees, visit www.csmd.edu/about/faculty-excellence-awards/.