He teaches the way he likes

HCC instructor, Ukraine native is published poet

HCC instructor, Ukraine native is published poet

November 13, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - When he emigrated to America from his native Ukraine 57 years ago, Askold Skalsky was leaving a very different land than it is today.

"The last time I was back was in 1997," the humanities instructor at Hagerstown Community College said. "Geographically, it's now the second-largest country in Europe."

When Skalsky was still living there, the Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Now an independent nation, the Ukraine is struggling to rebuild, Skalsky said.

"When we had a speakers bureau, I used to talk of the captive nations of the Soviet Union," Skalsky said.

He published a newsletter with news of the Ukraine and was surprised to know that people in his homeland knew of it when he visited there.


When first in the U.S., Skalsky and his parents and sister were sponsored by people in New Jersey and moved there. His father became a factory worker.

"I picked up the language quickly," Skalsky said.

He liked studying literature and writing, so he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning his undergraduate degree, he went to City College in New York.

For a while, he taught in high school. But he wanted to move to the college level. When he checked the placement service at the University of Pennsylvania, he saw there was an opening at Hagerstown Junior College.

Atlee Kepler was at the helm of the college when Skalsky arrived 38 years ago.

"Dr. Kepler believed in diversity," Skalsky said. "We had an incredible mix. He attracted those types."

Skalsky teaches basic English, composition, mythology and world literature. "When I first came here, I also taught German," he said.

He said he enjoys the academic atmosphere at HCC. "I've stayed so long, they let me teach the way I like," Skalsky said.

Skalsky enjoys writing, especially poetry, in a form he describes as prose poetry.

"I always knew I would write," he said.

In 1991, he began submitting some of his poetry to magazines. He has had work published in 190 publications.

He said writers all want to be inspired so their work will flow, but added that his favorite saying is, "a writer writes," meaning he tries to devote time daily to his writing.

Guessing that he might have a year or two before he retires, Skalsky said he wants to continue writing and to do some traveling.

"Maybe I'll see some of the United States," he said, noting that most of his travels have been elsewhere in the world.

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