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August 24, 2016
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Scott Krebs on small-town rural education; ECS high school principal reflects

According to Krebs, middle school is a difficult age, plagued with self doubt as young teens begin to question their circumstances. “Around seventh grade, kids start to understand who their parents are. They’re also trying to figure out who they themselves are,” he said. “In smaller communities like this, there’s greater support for that process. It’s not as easy to cut school here, for example. And parents tend to know everybody, because families have grown up together.”

Krebs also believes it is easier to identify and address other potential problems in a small school, ranging from personal issues to cheating to plagiarism. “Teachers will often take it upon themselves to have those difficult conversations because they know the kids for several years. Some of the teachers live in the local community. It’s more personal and problems can often be more effectively resolved,” he said.

Avoiding problems in the first place is another strategy Krebs employs. Vandalism is kept to a minimum with the installation of cameras throughout the school. “As soon as something is damaged, we get it fixed,” he said. “I immediately try to find out who did it and what happened. As soon as you let things like that fester, the next week there will be more.”

With the addition of smoke detectors in bathrooms and the fact that teachers also use the student bathrooms, smoking has nearly been eliminated. “It’s so rare that when it does happen, it’s really noticeable,” he said. “I get on that right away. I make it clear to students that I’m aware and taking action.”

While not a big problem, illegal drugs are still occasionally brought to school. “We have issues every year with kids suspended for having illegal items or selling them,” said Krebs. “I attempt to let them know that school is not the place for that. And we coordinate with the state police once a year or so to bring the dogs in to check for drugs. It sends a message.”

Another important issue Krebs must deal with throughout the year is impacts from the budgetary process. “This past year, we pretty much eliminated most of our field trips because we were on a contingency budget,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the best idea, because they often provide invaluable learning experiences.”

Not surprisingly, “field trips” is one of the items listed on the poster. So is virtual learning, detention, Facebook, tardies, spandex, fire drills, substitutes, bubble gum, the iguana ate my homework and much more, like the final question: they painted what? Krebs is going to find out. It’s just another day in school.