NORTH BEND — Tim Crider’s life path took a change when he was working at a YMCA camp in southern California during his college years.
“I grew up in an impoverished area of Southern California,” he said, adding that the camp is “where I realized there was a need for children to have positive male role models in their lives.
“I realized especially at the elementary level there weren’t a lot of those available.”
So Crider changed his direction from studying engineering.
“I wanted to give back to society and do something I would be proud of and would make the world a better place,” he said. “I could think of nothing better than teaching,”
It didn’t hurt that he also learned at the camp that he loved working with kids.
“This would be a much better path for me,” he said.
So Crider embarked on a teaching career that eventually brought him to the South Coast, teaching at Hillcrest Elementary School.
His role in the North Bend School District changed. First he became the district’s instructional coach, supporting teachers, helping model lessons and using data to drive instruction and student engagement techniques, he said.
Last year, he was the district’s federal programs coordinator in the district office, as well as assistant principal at North Bay Elementary School. As programs coordinator, he oversaw the district’s homeless program, as well as working with foster care and attendance advocates, English language learning and Indian education.
But he missed being around kids every day. So he’s ecstatic to be the new principal at Hillcrest, which serves some 460 kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.
“I am incredibly excited to be back in the building,” he said. “Working with kids is my passion. Being able to be here every day to support their growth in every way is what I’ve gone to school to do and what I love doing.”
Crider’s philosophy jumped out at North Bend School District Superintendent Kevin Bogatin when the two were working side-by-side in the district office during the past year.
“He is a new elementary principal, but not new to elementary education,” Bogatin said. “(He’s a successful teacher and someone who, in my one year working with him, puts kids first. That’s probably the highest praise I could give for Tim.”
Bogatin appreciates the work Crider has done supporting the district’s “most disadvantaged and marginalized kids” and said he will continue some in that role, since the position at the district office won’t be refilled.
“He really has been spearheading a lot of support in our county and our region to help a lot of kids who need our support,” Bogatin said.
Crider loves working in North Bend.
He and his wife, Deanna Soccio, vacationed on the South Coast several years while they were still teaching in Southern California.
“We ended up buying a cabin just north of here,” he said. “It became more and more of a home to us and it was harder and harder to go back down there. The lifestyle was better here.”
Finally, in 2014 they got the chance to make the South Coast their home. Both applied for jobs in the district and were hired.
“We went back down there, sold our house and everything we didn’t need and were back up here in two weeks to start the school year,” he said. “We never looked back. This was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, except for marrying my wife.”
Crider got a job teaching fourth and fifth grade at Hillcrest. His wife is a fourth-grade teacher at North Bay.
Crider is excited to be back in the school building in what promises to be a pivotal year in education in Oregon with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m excited to be here and kind of be part of getting everything up and running,” he said. “This is going to be a really important year for our students and our community.”
He sees a need to improve from the end of the 2019-2020 school year, when North Bend and other districts around the state had to instantly transfer to distance learning.
“Growing up is hard enough as it is for kids,” he said. “So many of our kids have so many adverse experiences. School is really their safe place. To not have had that since March is devastating.”
Because of that, he views perhaps the biggest roles of the educators being to support the students social-emotionally.
“To be able to provide some of that consistency and a safe place to them, whether it be in person or online, I think they need us,” he said. “We want to make sure students know that we care for them and are going to be there for them.
“Providing that security to them is that No. 1 priority and when the students do return to campus, keeping them safe and healthy, making sure we can do everything we can to prevent the spread of illness.”
He’s confident the district is better prepared than it was in the spring, when distance learning was thrust upon all schools in the state.
“Working in this profession, you have to be willing to reflect on your successes and challenges and learn how to adapt to new situations,” he said. “We are learning from the parents and other state leaders. We are trying to look at this through multiple lenses to make this experience the best it can be.
“It is going to be very different than the spring and we are going to be as successful as ever.”