Crawford job ‘right situation’ for Eastridge
Former Crawford County High School teacher and Taswell native Mark Eastridge is going home. Eastridge, junior high school principal at Corydon the past 13 years, will replace retiring Crawford County Community School Corp. Supt. Tom Doddridge Jan. 1.
Eastridge, 46, of Corydon, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana State University in 2000, said he had considered making the jump to superintendent, ‘but I was looking for the right situation for me.’
The Crawford County opening presented it. Not only was Eastridge drawn because of his local ties ‘ a 1976 English High School graduate, he still has family there ‘ but he knows several staff members and was impressed with the ‘quality of the people in the school corporation.’
Having earned his doctorate in leadership ‘ his dissertation is titled ‘Teacher and Principal of Perception Development in Selected Indiana Schools’ ‘ Eastridge has an organizational view of administration. A believer in synergy (the sum of the parts are greater than their total), Eastridge hopes, as superintendent, to find resources that will allow teachers and principals to take advantage of opportunities to improve their skills.
‘You’re only as good as the people in your corporation,’ said Eastridge. He wants to ‘encourage and provide opportunities for folks to grow professionally.’
The Crawford system, Eastridge said, has ‘good people doing great things,’ but, he added, no matter how good they are, they can always get better.
‘Effective professional development is job-embedded ‘ it’s ongoing,’ Eastridge said.
For students to get the most out of their educational experience, the entire organization must be willing to strengthen their skills, he said.
‘From the superintendent, board, principals, all the people in the (school) community continue to learn and grow,’ Eastridge said.
For example, he recently took a team of Corydon Central Junior High School teachers to a national conference, allowing them to learn firsthand from their peers.
Eastridge said it is important for him, as superintendent, to be in the schools, but, he added, his primary responsibility will be to provide staff members the resources they need to do their job effectively.
‘My philosophy is you let your principals run your building,’ he said.
In Crawford County, Eastridge will inherit a school corporation that isn’t in the red, but, like other school systems throughout the state, has been operating on a razor-thin budget the past couple of years.
Eastridge said he plans to establish a financial advisory committee of community members who are experienced in banking and finance to look at the budget. To meet monthly, they may offer a perspective he hadn’t considered, he said.
‘I think the more people you have looking at (the budget) in that capacity who have that expertise, the better we are,’ he said. He may have the corporation’s financial records audited, so he can better understand the exact status of the budget.
Eastridge has had a varied educational career. He earned a specialist in education degree from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1994 to go along with his bachelor and master’s degrees in education. Those were earned at I.U. Southeast in 1980 and 1986, respectively.
He began his career at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, where he taught from 1981 through ’83. He then moved to Corydon Central High School and taught government, sociology and economics through 1992, when he became principal of Corydon Middle School. In 1995, when Corydon Central Junior High School opened, he became principal there.
Although he has been in administration for more than a decade, Eastridge still teaches. Since 2001, he has been an adjunct faculty member in education leadership/school-community relations for graduate students at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Eastridge has received several honors, including the National Association of Secondary School Principals/MetLife Middle Level State Principal of the Year for Indiana in 2002. After receiving the award, Eastridge was invited to speak at a national conference in Washington, D.C.
He has served on several professional boards, including the Indiana Association of School Principals, speaking at the group’s state and fall conferences.
Although Eastridge will not officially make the move to Crawford County until Jan. 1, he doesn’t plan to wait until the new year to begin getting acquainted with the Crawford County school community, some of whom (including high school Principal Wayne Apple who held the same position at Corydon), he has worked with in the past.
‘It was great working with Wayne,’ he said.
Eastridge said he has already talked with Apple and Doddridge, and will spend most of his afternoons this month in Crawford, learning the details of the corporation. He also plans to meet with staff after school.
He will ‘Tell them a little about myself, but actually do a lot more listening than talking.’
Eastridge and his wife, Susie, a sixth-grade teacher at South Central Elementary, will remain in Corydon during the transition, so he can focus his energy on learning the job, but they likely will move to Crawford later.
Eastridge has a daughter, Candice, 17, and two stepchildren, Ashlee and Brandon Crisp, 19 and 22, respectively.
Eastridge said leaving Corydon Central Junior High School mid-year will be difficult, ‘because I have established tremendous relationships over the years,’ but he said he appreciates the unique opportunity he has been presented.
‘I’m very appreciative to the (school) board and the people of Crawford County for giving me the chance to come and serve them,’ he said.