Ed Crum took over July 1 and already has his office filled with Denver Broncos memorabilia, pictures of his wife and children, and mounds of paperwork.
Crum’s personal and professional history
Crum got into education for the same reason as most teachers.
“I just like making a difference,” he said. “I think meeting the needs of all kids is very important and I don’t and will not give up on any kid.”
Crum grew up in Aurora, Colorado, playing basketball and counseling church camps. It was clear even as a teenager that he had a passion for coaching children through their challenges, whether by practice or faith.
Because of his volunteer work through his church, Crum got a full ride scholarship to the now defunct Phillips University in Enid, where he met his wife.
“I thought I was going to move right back to Colorado after graduation. She had other plans I guess,” he said with a chuckle.
Crum started as a teacher in Moore, Oklahoma, where he taught 7th grade English and coached high school basketball. However, when he and his wife decided to have children, Crum took a more lucrative position at the Federal Reserve Bank.
From there he took a job that brought the young family to Claremore managing the State of Oklahoma’s Overseas Trade Offices.
“I made more money, but not enough for my wife to stay home when we had kids,” Crum said. “I got back into teaching at Roosa Elementary and taught 4th grade there for four years.”
He moved from Roosa to the Junior High where he taught math for two years.
He then took over as assistant principal of the Junior High before being offered a job in Tulsa as principal of Perry Elementary School.
“I was driving back and forth from Tulsa when my kids were still pretty young,” Crum said. “Being a principal, I loved it, but at the same time, you get heavily involved in the lives of those kids. I might not come home until 6 or 7 at night and then when I came home my mind was still dealing with the circumstances of those kids and that I wanted to do best for them.”
“I wasn’t really there for my family at the time, so it was kind of a family decision to move back here,” Crum said.
He joined the Justus-Tiawah family as the 4th, 5th and 6th grade principal in 2012.
In addition to working much closer to home, Crum said it was a privilege to join the staff of a great school
“Justus-Tiawah has always had a reputation of being a very good school district,” he said. “When you talk to teachers in Claremore they say they always love to get kids from Justus-Tiawah.”
Outside of work Crum likes to spend time playing sports with his daughter, a freshman at Claremore High School and son, 6th grade at Justus-Tiawah.
Crum’s wife is a counselor and school psychologist in the Claremore School system.
“This summer I have worked every day basically, and it’s the first summer I’ve done that in a while so I absolutely miss hanging out with my family,” Crum said, though he’s confident that taking this position at this point in his life is God’s will.
The biggest responsibility of his new position is as the instructional leader of the district and to foster the vision of the school board.
However, “in small districts you kind of wear many hats,” Crum said. As principal he was acting counselor, test coordinator, maintenance man, substitute teacher, substitute custodian, substitute cafeteria cook and bus driver. “In my position as superintendent, I will still be doing many of those things, just in a different capacity.”
He will also double as the 7th and 8th Grade Principal.
“I’m truly blessed to be in my position. It is busy, it is stressful, but I like my busy and I like my stress,” he said.
The future for Justus-Tiawah
Former superintendent David Garroutte has optimism to spare for Crum’s future with the district. “We’ve worked together for five years and we have the same philosophies about everything except for lunch,” Garroutte said.
“I’m very honored to follow Mr. Garroutte, because he was here for 17 years and he has created a culture here that is phenomenal. It is a family atmosphere. The teachers are all in it for the right reasons,” Crum said. “That to me is a big reason why I wanted to take his place. I want to continue to foster those things.”
Crum said that when it comes to the priorities for his school district, number one is doing what’s best for the kids.
“We believe in academics and in working hard academically. We want to have good test scores, but at the same time we also realize that that’s not everything with regard to a child’s education,” Crum said, indicating similarities in how both he Garroutte think about the purpose of a school. “We believe in teaching the whole child; manners and respect, letting them grow as individuals and work together. All kinds of different things that aren’t necessarily just math and reading.”
In addition to building on Garroutte’s legacy, Crum has some plans of his own.
“We’re wanting to integrate some more technology in our district now moving forward,” Crum said.
Crum explained that part of successfully integrating technology into the classroom is striking the right balance.
“We want to recognize that technology is so important today for kids, that it’s a necessity, but at the same time we also want to continue to focus on growing the individual, being able to relate to others, being able to communicate, being able to be respectful, have good manners. Those are all soft skills in life that are critical for a kid’s success,” he said.
Crum’s other big plan is to rebuild the things that had to be cut due to the lack of state funding.
“Mr. Garroutte has been a wonderful at managing money and so luckily, although our finances aren’t what we’d like them to be, they’re not bad either,” Crum said.
Crum said a point of pride at Justus is that because administrators wear so many hats, overhead costs aren’t as high as other districts.
“A lot of people want to close down our small schools, but I would put the money that goes into the classroom against anybody’s,” Crum said.
Some of the investments Crum hopes to put back in the classroom are hiring a few more teachers and support staff and growing the school’s STEM program.
This academic year will see the return of the school’s civics program.
“One thing, moving forward and working with our partners in education and our PTO, it’s important for me to expose our kids to what’s available out there right now,” Crum said.
Crum wants to expose the children to the large variety of career options that exist and the various pathways to get there.
“I want to get kids out and about to go check out the Port of Catoosa. I’ve met with Mid America Industrial Park to possibly connect with companies there,” Crum said excitedly. “It used to be that college was where you needed to go, but now-a-days they’re hiring people right out of high school with decent jobs.”
Crum hopes that by showing young students the grand variety of pathways to success, he can help them strive for greatness on their way down any of the roads they choose to follow.
His work is set out for him, but with Garroutte a phone call away and a fantastic support system, Crum said he is ready to take on this challenge.
“I love it here. Our kids our phenomenal. The support we have here from parents is second to none,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place.”