TONASKET – As Jeff Cravy works his final weeks as the Tonasket Elementary School principal, he finds himself living in two different worlds at the same time.
Cravy, recently hired as the principal at South Whidbey Elementary School in Langley, has been working to transition into his new position there at the same time as he’s tried to keep things smooth for incoming TES principal Jeremy Clark.
“We’ll definitely miss the hometown feel here,” Cravy said. “I’ll miss the connection with the parents. You see them at the grocery store, at soccer, at Scouts. You’re always seeing people. I’d never had that before.
“If there is an issue, or a crisis, or a death, people here really come together and support one another.”
In a way, that was a major factor in Cravy resigning at Tonasket — not the community here, but needing to be closer to family and lifelong church connections that he left behind when moving here seven years ago.
“It was time for a change for our family,” he said. “We have a lot of connections over there. My in-laws are in Vancouver, B.C., and they’re 89 and 90. Right now it’s a seven-hour drive across Canada to get there and that will get us a lot closer.
“Our church community over there that’s 60 miles away in Woodinville, we’re still close to a lot of people there, and our church here is down to just six people, so that’s a factor. We’ve been here the longest we’ve been in one spot, and career-wise I wanted to look at some other opportunities.”
The Cravy family’s departure will leave a big hole in Tonasket. Among their other shoes that will need to be filled: Cravy is also the EMS director and Boy Scout leader, while his wife Jean has led the Cub Scouts.
A lot has changed in Cravy’s seven years on the job, including his growth as a principal.
“I’ve really appreciated the patience of the staff,” he said. “They were supportive as I learned the job, they helped me grow and they supported me as I grew as a leader. It’s been a very positive relationship. I’ll definitely miss having the secretaries harass me in my office, too.”
He added that he’s appreciated the work the staff has put in as they’ve implemented new programs in the past several years.
“We’ve really improved in our behavior intervention,” Cravy said. “We’re a lot more consistent in helping kids that way.
“They’ve just done a great job moving forward. Our scores haven’t been the greatest, but the system is getting fully in place now and I’m sure we’ll see them going up again soon. They’ve shown great dedication and have helped each other through the good and bad times.”
Cravy said he can only hope to see the kind of parent involvement he’s gotten used to here in his new position.
“It’s amazing to have 90 percent of the parents show up for parent-teacher conferences,” he said. “The parents and community here really support the school. It makes the whole experience more positive. Everyone is pulling for the kids.”