New Conway superintendent brings diverse background

September 3, 2018
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Conway School District Superintendent Jeff Cravy stands Friday next to a wheelbarrow and rock sculpture at the school.

CONWAY — New Conway School District Superintendent Jeff Cravy’s career in education started when he was a police officer.

In 1988, Cravy was working as an officer in the Selah Police Department when he took a job as the department’s drug abuse resistance education (DARE) officer working in the schools.

“I loved being there,” Cravy said. “I loved being with the kids.”

When his three-year stint as the DARE officer was up, Cravy decided to quit the force and hit the books to earn his teaching degree from Central Washington University.

More than 20 years after moving into the education field, Cravy said he still uses some of the skills he learned in his former career.

“I use a lot of people skills I learned in the police department,” he said.

Cravy was hired by the Conway School Board in April. His duties in the district officially began July 1.

He comes to the district after serving eight years as the principal of South Whidbey Elementary School in Langley. He has also worked as a teacher in the Oroville, Tonasket and Arlington school districts.

In 2011, Cravy received his superintendent certificate from Central Washington University.

When the position in Conway opened, Cravy said he knew he wanted to apply for it.

“It was perfect,” he said. “I’ve always worked for rural school districts. The staff and kids are amazing.”

By the time his second interview rolled around, he said, he was hooked.

“People were greeting me like we were old friends,” he said. “You just got that hometown feel that this was a good place to be.”

One of his goals in his first year, he said, is to build relationships inside the school and the community in order to continue building upon the district’s educational success.

“I think it enhances the school when you have those types of relationships,” he said.

The biggest challenge facing the district this year is the state’s changing financial landscape when it comes to funding education, he said.

While the state Legislature claims to have resolved the 2012 McCleary case, in which the state Supreme Court ruled the state was not living up to its constitutional obligation to fully-fund basic education, there are still unknowns about future funding, especially when it comes to special education.

Cravy said he thinks his demeanor will help guide the district through the challenges ahead.

“I think I’m a pretty calm, stable person,” Cravy said. “I don’t get ruffled easily.”

Cravy has also worked as a volunteer firefighter, most recently serving as a lieutenant with the South Whidbey Fire and Emergency Medical Service. He hopes to continue working with local volunteer fire departments, he said.

“I love doing that,” he said. “Serving people and helping people.”

The district also has a new principal this year, Tim Dickinson.

“He’s highly motivated and dedicated,” Cravy said of Dickinson. “He’s highly engaging with the staff and I think he brings a wealth of knowledge.”

Longtime Conway School Principal Deenie Berry retired after the 2016-2017 school year, and the school last year had an interim principal.

Together, Cravy said he hopes they can build a stable leadership base for the school to do what it does best — teach.

“When you’re in a school district, you’re always in improvement mode,” he said.

School in the Conway School District begins Tuesday.

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