The newest addition to the Mid-Plains Community College Board of Governors is no stranger to the field of education.
Kirk Crawley spent his entire career as a teacher, coach and administrator within the Broken Bow Public Schools system. He was sworn onto the MPCC Board of Governors Wednesday evening during a meeting at the college’s North Campus in North Platte.
“I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet,” said Crawley. “I’m anxious to see all the other campuses and what they have to offer and to understand the direction the board and administration wants to take those.”
Crawley is originally from Arnold. He was raised on ranch west of the community, and attended Arnold High School, which is where his interest in education began.
“My mother had been a teacher at surrounding country schools, so education was always promoted to me from the time I was very young,” Crawley said. “Then in high school, we had a program that allowed students to assist teachers in the classroom. I really enjoyed that, and the experience made me want to teach as well.”
Crawley graduated from Arnold High School in 1978 and enrolled in what is now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He earned a degree in elementary education from UNK in 1982 and obtained a master’s degree in education administration from the university in 1988.
His first job out of college was teaching third grade and coaching junior high football and high school wrestling for the Broken Bow Public Schools.
“I came in during the ’82-’83 school year,” Crawley said. “I had some really great mentors when I arrived, and those guys helped me get started the right way. I was able to build some strong relationships with the kids and their families, which ended up being the high point for me.”
Crawley coached both sports for more than two decades. As time went on, he also taught fourth and fifth grades, spent a year as the activities director and was the assistant elementary principal for the last five years of his career.
“It was entirely different being an administrator as opposed to an educator or coach,” Crawley said. “Instead of being zeroed in on a group of 20-25 kids, I had to focus on the needs of all the kids, which was an eye-opening experience even after being in education as long as I was. I always appreciated educators at all levels, but when I had to go into various classrooms and evaluate them, I really gained an awareness of the different skill sets needed for every grade.”
Crawley retired in 2016 but couldn’t leave the educational world behind. Last year, he was approached by Louis “Louie” Stithem, also of Broken Bow, who, after 32 years of representing District Three on the MPCC Board of Governors, decided to step down.
“He encouraged me to run for his seat,” Crawley said. “I had worked with Louie and always found him to be an asset, not just to the board, but also to the Broken Bow community. I thought serving in his place would be an incredible opportunity to make a difference in higher education and to try to emulate some of those great characteristics Louie has shown over the years.”
While he doesn’t believe there’s any true substitution for experience, Crawley is looking forward to doing what he can to help meet the needs of the area through the MPCC Board of Governors.
His first order of business will be gaining an understanding of operations and developing relationships with college employees and board veterans.
“At the end of the day, we are all working toward a common goal – promoting Mid-Plains and the opportunities it offers,” Crawley said. “No matter the level, education plays a huge role in impacting and improving lives. MPCC is a vital component of that. Just because you’re in a rural setting doesn’t mean you can’t meet people’s needs. It just means you do it in a different way. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”