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Scott Krebs on small-town rural education; ECS high school principal reflects

September 26, 2012

“We haven’t had a car on the roof yet,” joked Eldred Central School (ECS) District high school principal Scott Krebs as he gestured toward a poster displayed on the wall of his office.

Pretty much everything else listed under “Just another day in school” on the poster created by the National Association of Secondary School Principals is something Krebs has had to address or must continue to tackle as part of his job.

Unfunded mandates on things like cyber-bullying, unexpected events such as flooding in the locker room, snow days, grading policies, summer school, homecoming, assessments, parking problems, clothing issues, virtual learning, tight budgets, pets brought to school, cell phones—are issues that regularly come across the desk of the average high school principal. And while the challenges faced by a small rural school district like ECS are no different, Krebs likes to think that there are advantages and strengths that help to offset them.

Krebs has been the high school principal at ECS for a decade, following stints at Ellenville, Warwick, Middletown, Fallsburg and Rochester, so he brings a broad perspective to the position.

“I’ve always thought that kids mature in a smaller rural school a year later than kids in more urban settings. You’ll see seventh and eighth graders here still very Mom-and-Dad-oriented,” he said. “If you go to Monticello or Middletown, kids tend to be more streetwise. Fads tend to roll through later, too. We’re definitely not trend setters here.”

Because bullying has been an increasingly important issue, the school district has taken multiple steps to address it. “We’ve done webinars, seminars, workshops, assemblies and surveys,” said Krebs. “The majority of the kids responding now are saying, ‘Stop with the bullying. We’re starting to feel bullied with this bullying message.’ I think we might have overdone it. But parents want a pro-active approach. And small schools allow more flexibility. If you find out you have two kids with issues, you can move them around the following year to minimize the conflict, for example.”

That flexibility has allowed for a simple solution to a problem where kids were avoiding completion of their physical education requirements due to discomfort over mixed-sex classes. “I instituted same sex physical education classes for students, which solved the problem,” he said. “It worked so well, we’ve even taken that approach with some other classes, such as science labs.”