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New Principal Already “Home”

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July 18, 2010 by wcobserver

Balance and Focus Ground Crowder

By Nick DeMoss
nick@wcobserver.com

West Fork- For John Crowder, the decision to return to northwest Arkansas was an easy one. What he needed, however, was the opportunity. Now, the new principal of West Fork High School says he’s found somewhere he’d like to spend the rest of his life.

The 47-year-old Bearden, Ark. native got his first taste of life in Washington County as an assistant principal at Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville nearly 20 years ago, and since then he and his wife of 25 years have always wanted to return to the area.

But the decision to become a part of the West Fork High School community was about more than the area’s geography, though Crowder noted that he and his family particularly enjoy the mixture of small-town and big-city life.

“Their philosophy [at West Fork High School] — their seriousness about education and how they balance that with their extracurricular activities met with my philosophy,” Crowder said. As a former science teacher and football coach, balancing school activities with education is something Crowder said he knows well.

“As a coach and a science teacher, the kids would sometimes ask me to talk about sports during class, and I would tell them that there’s a time and a place for everything,” he said. “I would say ‘right now is science class, so we’re going to talk about science.’ At the same time, when we’re on the football field, we’re only talking about football.”

Maintaining a balance is something Crowder said plays a big role in his daily life. A self-described “unabashed Christian,” Crowder said he believes in the separation of church and state. Though a pocket-sized copy of the New Testament sits on the corner of his desk, Crowder does not force his religion on anyone, he said. Instead, Crowder said, he lets his Christian ideals guide him.

“Be just, fair, compassionate – and there’s a balance in all that. Do your best, work with people, and stand up when something’s wrong,” are the basic tenets Crowder said he carries with him.

Crowder came to West Fork after spending nine years in Ashdown, Ark. as a high school principal, and the transition, though sometimes difficult, is going smoothly, he said. From helping him find his way around the campus to dining at Jake’s Pizza, the staff and faculty of West Fork High have helped him adjust to working in the district, Crowder said.

Going into the school year, which begins next month, Crowder said he has one main goal.

“Our prime directive here is to give our kids the best opportunities to be academically and socially successful, so that they have the best chance to go be whatever they want to be in life,” he said.

Through firmness, fairness and consistency, Crowder said he plans to help each of the 385 students in West Fork High School achieve their goals.

“I like seeing the kids come back and say ‘thanks for not giving up on me,’” he said. “I don’t give up on them, because I remember what a knucklehead I was at that age.”

As an Arkansas native and a Razorback fan who loves the rural and the urban, Crowder said he doesn’t plan to leave the area any time soon.

“To use an old redneck saying, they’ll take me out of here in a pine box.”

Crowder graduated high school in Bearden, Ark and received his degree in education in 1986 from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. He then worked as an assistant manager at a Walmart, but eventually returned to SAU for another year of schooling. He received a master’s  degree from Texas A&M Commerce, and his certification as a superintendent from the University of Central Arkansas. He and his wife have two children, a 12-year-old who will be in the seventh grade at West Fork, and a 22-year-old son who lives in Bryant, Ark.

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