Dominic DeLauney '03 - Experience is the Best Teacher

Wandering the aisles of Towson University’s large, labyrinthine bookstore, Dominic DeLauney ’03 skimmed hundreds of textbook titles and academic department acronyms. Unlike the other students shopping deliberately with course syllabuses in hand, he wasn’t searching for anything in particular—except, perhaps, inspiration.

When he had entered Towson as a freshman, Dominic was a psychology major pursuing a career as a guidance counselor. But after losing a close friend to cancer, he looked toward his future with a new perspective. He felt compelled to change course but had no idea what was next for him. So, he found himself standing there in the bookstore, quite literally surrounded by possibility.

Eventually, a cover caught his eye. A book about Pro Tools, the digital audio program that he and his band used to record their music. Interest piqued, he explored the section and discovered the text was for a course in electronic media and film. With nothing to lose, he walked over to the building on campus that housed the major.

“That was kind of the start of the rest of my life,” he says.

Dominic graduated from Towson with a degree in electronic media and film (EMF) with an audio concentration. He was at his graduation party when he received a call from someone in the EMF department asking if he would be interested in returning as a teacher.

“When I started, I was a kid teaching kids,” Dominic recalls. “I had friends sitting in the classroom across from me, joking around and throwing spitballs at me because I was their friend who was suddenly their teacher. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to draw that line, how to command the classroom, how to earn their respect.”

The idea of teaching his friends wasn’t entirely unfamiliar to Dominic, as he had served as a mentor in the O’Neil Peer Education Program at Mount Saint Joseph. At that time, he had no desire to become a teacher, but years later he is grateful for the foundation the experience provided. 

Dominic has been an adjunct professor at Towson now for 14 years, teaching three-hour classes each Tuesday and Thursday evening. His part-time profession has been influenced greatly by the different day jobs he has held over the years. When he started teaching, he was also a sound mixer for the Food Network shows Ace of Cakes and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, but he learned quickly that a career in television was not for him.

He went on to manage a team at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, building distance learning studios for recording and broadcasting live lectures. “They’ve been doing online learning since before anybody knew about online learning,” Dominic points out. This background gave Dominic a bit of a leg up when the pandemic hit, but teaching an audio class to students who don’t have access to a recording studio is a challenge even with an understanding of distance learning techniques.

While distance learning presented several obstacles and forced Dominic to modify his teaching methods, he did everything he could to provide his students with as “normal” of a classroom experience as possible. He even built a new home office/recording studio, complete with guitars appended to the walls, a new microphone, a functional “On Air” light blinking red above the door, and two computer interfaces.

“The advantage is the commute,” Dominic laughs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when he wraps up his day’s work as assistant vice president and lead manager of global brand video at T. Rowe Price, he simply swivels his chair over to his second computer and puts on his professor hat. He has been at T. Rowe Price now for three years, leading the enterprise video team, which supports the firm globally for all types of video needs.

“I talk about my second job like it’s my first job because it’s the one that’s super rewarding, but I also really enjoy what I do at T. Rowe Price,” Dominic says. “I love being able to take what I do during the day with me to Towson at night.”

Though his commute has been cut to seconds, the time Dominic spends on his teaching responsibilities has multiplied by nearly three. In addition to the six hours he spends teaching each week, he used to spend about 10 hours grading and providing feedback on projects. With group projects less of a possibility this year, he has had to spend almost 30 hours a week reviewing his students’ individual works.

However, Dominic did learn a thing or two this year about collaborating remotely on audio projects, and he has been able to bring his new knowledge and experience into his virtual classroom to help his students find ways to work together. He is part of a band called Shuttlecraft that started not long before the pandemic. When getting together to create music was no longer an option, the band searched for ways to continue doing what they loved. Using a program called Logic, they discovered that they could each record their individual parts and seamlessly combine them into a single track. They were able to release a dozen studio-quality songs without getting together once.

“I quickly took that learning and went to the class,” Dominic says. “Now, they can collaborate on projects together. If I hadn’t done it myself, I wouldn’t have been able to suggest it. It’s really been a learning experience and a way to connect and still play music.”

With all that Dominic is balancing, from T. Rowe Price to Towson to Shuttlecraft, he always makes time for his family. “I’m super busy but I never want my kids to think that I’m too busy, especially that I am too busy for them,” he says. “They are my number one priority.” He looks forward to sharing a special bond with his stepson, Andrew, who will be a freshman at The Mount next year.

As for teaching, the mental fatigue inflicted by navigating this challenging year has not scared Dominic into retirement. “I still love it, and I still feel like I have something to offer,” he says. “That’s why I still do it. It can be exhausting, but there is a reason I do this. It’s not because I make money; it’s because I make a difference.”

Mount Saint Joseph High School

Mount Saint Joseph is a Catholic, college preparatory school for young men sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers.