BRUNSWICK — After more than a decade of living and working around the world, from Canada to Kyrgyzstan, Shanna Crofton decided it was time to come back home.
Her timing couldn’t have been better – just as she and her husband contemplated moving back to the states, Brunswick High School was looking for a new principal, and last October, Crofton was offered the job.
“You get to a point where you want to come home,” Crofton said Tuesday, at her new office at Brunswick High School.
Although she has spent most of the past 12 years working abroad, Crofton said she always intended to move back to Maine and Brunswick.
“I never was planning on living abroad forever,” she said. “I would say Brunswick is a place I’ve been focused on for a while.”
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Crofton finished high school in Gorham and graduated from Bowdoin College in 2001 with degrees in political science and history.
Her Bowdoin experience, she said, helped forge a bond to Brunswick and fueled her passion for education.
Crofton said she vividly remembers classroom visits she made as a college student and the effect that Brunswick teachers had on their students. She can even recall the first classroom she entered, a sixth-grade English class.
“I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I remember the atmosphere of the classroom,” she said. “I think that’s what the deciding factor was for me going into teaching.”
After graduating in 2001, Crofton took a job at a private school in Leysin, Switzerland, where she rose from admissions associate to assistant academic dean.
Her career took her to the instability-prone central Asian country Kyrgyzstan, where she worked for the American University, and to the Branksome Hall private school in metropolitan Toronto.
In between positions, Crofton boosted her professional standing with post-graduate work at the University of New England in Biddeford and the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Since 2012, Crofton worked as head of secondary school at the Oberio International School in Mumbai, India.
While most of her experience is in private schools, Crofton said she wanted to move into public education, specifically in Maine.
Although there are differences between Maine’s education system and those in India, Switzerland, and Canada, the expectations of students, parents, and teachers are usually the same, despite cultural and legal differences, Crofton said.
“Teachers are teachers, students are students,” Crofton said. “Everybody wants high-quality programs, so it’s really similar in all of those ways.”
Crofton will also have plenty of new changes to work around at Brunswick High School, including implementing Common Core standards, adjusting to the expansion of charter schools in Maine, and possibly bringing in a new group of students from nearby Durham and Pownal.
With everything going on, Crofton said, it would be premature to put forward her own ideas for the school. Instead, she said she plans to work with teachers and staff to find improvements.
“Change always brings a sense of anxiety for people,” Crofton said. “It’s how you go though change and make it beneficial and enjoyable that matters.”
“I’d rather be coming in at a time when there is a lot on the table to be managing,” she added, “than absolutely nothing.”
Brunswick High School’s new principal, Shanna Crofton.