Since Ashton "T" Griffin IV was born, he has defied the laws of physics.

Born two and a half months early in 1956, he weighed only two pounds, eight ounces and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

His legs were most affected, requiring multiple surgeries. He didn't walk until age 4.

He started using a cane in elementary school and these days finds it easier to navigate with a wheelchair.

But these are just semantics to the chemistry professor at Wayne Community College, wrapping up a 34-year career in education this week.

"It (cerebral palsy) was never an issue because it's something I have dealt with forever and for most people, they tend to forget it," he shrugged. "It's not a constant that comes up."

He will mention it the first day of class, he says, but only in context of those students who may believe they're entitled to special accommodations. He'll then recommend the students enlist the help of a disabilities counselor at the college, he said.

Growing up in Goldsboro -- except for when his family moved when his father, Dr. Ashton Griffin, served in the Air Force -- he considers himself fortunate.

"I was probably the first person of what we would call mainstream today, at Edgewood," he said, referencing the former elementary school that today caters entirely to students with developmental issues.

From grades 7-12, he attended Wayne Country Day School. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Davidson College, a master's in analytical chemistry and another in education administration, both from Duke, and a master's in science education from Montana State University.

He started his career at Broughton High School in Raleigh in 1982 and, except for 10 years when he "played chemist," he has found his niche in the classroom.

"I was happier teaching," he said. "This is what I like best."

He taught for eight years at Southern Wayne High School and two at Spring Creek High, serving as "sports medicine person" at both schools. In 2005, he joined the faculty at WCC.

He would be continuing there in fall were it not for a promise made to his wife of 13 years, Paula.

"We had decided if she got a job that required us to move that I would consider retirement," he said.

That happened faster than expected -- she was recently hired as associate rector at Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, S.C.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for her and I'm excited," Griffin said.

Wrapping up a session in summer school, Thursday, July27 will be his last day at the college.

He has committed to taking a semester off, primarily because of the move, but does not envision staying idle long.

"The church we're going to has a school that they partner with, I believe it's an elementary school," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting involved in things in Spartanburg and the church."

He's already discovered that one of his first students from Raleigh is a member of the church, and has a Goldsboro connection.

The church also has a Boy Scout troop, which plays into another of Griffin's longtime interests.

"I have been involved with the Boy Scouts at the district level, mostly the Eagle Scout review," he said. "My grandfather was the first Eagle Scout in Wayne County, my dad was an Eagle Scout and I was probably one of the first third-generation Eagle Scouts.

"Two years ago I was awarded the Silver Beaver award, so I'm looking forward to maybe doing some similar things (in S.C.)."

As he was packing up his office and readying for his departure this past week, he admitted it is a bit bittersweet.

"I will miss my students and my colleagues," he said. "I will miss, I have done the clock for University of Mount Olive (men's basketball) since 2001. I will come back and do the Pickle Classic this November."

He is also grateful for the opportunities afforded him at WCC, included being a presenter at several national conferences in recent years.

"When I'm asked what I'm proudest of, there are probably 15 or 20 people that work here, either as faculty or staff, that I taught," he said.

Social media will be helpful in maintaining connections with friends and colleagues, as well as former students.

"It keeps me up to date with where they are and gives me some idea of what they're doing," he said.