Coming Home: Baumcratz Hired as Principal at North Clarion
(Photo: New North Clarion principal Ed Baumcratz with his family. From left: Daughter Sydney, wife Chrissy, Ed (holding daughter Olivia) and son Noah. Baumcratz, a North Clarion graduate, was hired as the North Clarion principal on July 11.)
Ed (Eddie) Baumcratz, a 1999 graduate of North Clarion High School and a former teacher at the school, was named the high school principal on July 11, 2019.
“It means a lot to me,” Baumcratz said. “I left two years ago to go to Rocky Grove, which is a tremendous place. I love it up there. But, my kids are here and my family is here. After thinking hard and talking to my family, it is the right time and the right move because I have three young kids in the district.”
Baumcratz served as the principal at Rocky Grove from October 2017 through the present and said he wouldn’t trade his experience at the school for anything.
“It’s bittersweet,” Baumcratz said. “I hate having this talk (about leaving Rocky Grove). This move is not about being not happy at Rocky Grove. I loved my time at Rocky Grove. This is about my family and making the best move for them and myself.
“The people at Rocky Grove welcomed me with open arms. They have a dedicated staff there and an outstanding superintendent in Kevin Briggs. Our test scores were skyrocketing, and that starts at the top. (Briggs) was a mentor to me and an all-around good guy. I am happy to have met him and mentored under him. I learned a lot.
“Our core administration team has worked closely together to better the overall education at Rocky Grove, and I will miss the camaraderie, friendship, and planning the school future with them.
“The students and the parents, getting to know them was great. I will miss them, as well.”
Baumcratz said the reputation North Clarion continues to develop as one of the best schools in the region was one of the things, other than coming home, that drew him to apply for the job.
“If you compare North Clarion to the other schools in the (Intermediate Unit), North Clarion is always in the top three in every category in elementary and high school,” Baumcratz said.
“We strive for excellence in academics and have great sports programs. We give kids great opportunities.”
Prior to taking the Rocky Grove principal job in October 2017, Baumcratz was the art teacher at the elementary school and high school at North Clarion starting in August 2009. He also served as the assistant to high school principal Ryan Cornecki and as high school basketball coach from August 2013 through June 2015. Prior to that, from August 2008 through June 2009, he was a tutor in the school district, and he also served as a substitute teacher in the district from December 2007 through June 2008. He spent time as both and assistant and head boys’ basketball coach at North Clarion and as the head girls’ basketball coach at Clarion.
“It (coming home) is pretty emotional,” Baumcratz said. “There is a lot of happiness. I started (as) a substitute for a year, bumped up to tutor for two years, and then became the full-time art teacher. I went through the stepping stones and kept moving up. The jobs I got I earned by doing the dirty work. I would get calls at 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. telling me I needed to come in and work. I guess that is good for me. There is no job I won’t do.
“Whatever is needed out of me (as principal), I will do. Whether that is folding of chairs or covering a class, I am not above those jobs. I get that hard-working mentality from my parents. My mom (Sue) has been an RN at Clarion Hospital for 36 years. My dad (Ed Sr.) worked at the Clarion University maintenance department for 20-plus years. I treat the janitors the same as how I treat the superintendent and the school board members.”
Baumcratz said being a principal wasn’t something he thought about doing when he walked the halls of North Clarion as a student but seeing how North Clarion superintendent Steve Young went from a teacher to assistant principal to principal to superintendent helped give him goals.
“You don’t grow up in school and say you want to become a principal. It just kind of happens,” Baumcratz said. “Steve was my science teacher. Having him as a teacher and seeing how he moved up in the school, I look up to him. He got (North Clarion) out of a big-budget crisis when times were getting tough eight years ago or so, and he tightened the budget and has kept the school financially feasible. Our greatest time, I believe, is in the future. There a lot of good projects going on to help kids with academics and athletics.”
Baumcratz said his plan isn’t to come in and shake everything up. He doesn’t believe that is needed.
“I am not coming in and changing everything,” Baumcratz said. “What they do now, it works. I am a big believer in the philosophy if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I want to meet the staff and see what is good and what is bad and prioritize change only if needed.”
According to Baumcratz, building on the robotics initiative that was started at North Clarion last year is one of his goals and something he is familiar with from his time at Rocky Grove.
“I would like to implement a coding curriculum in seventh through 12 grades to get the kids early coding at an early age and help feed the robotics program.”
Baumcratz expects to transition easily back into North Clarion but also understands that some of the dynamics are going to be different as he becomes the boss to former colleagues and friends.
“This will probably be the easiest transition I have ever had,” Baumcratz said. “I know most of the staff and families. We have already built those relations. When I start on August 21, it will be like I never left.
“It (knowing them and having worked with them and having been friends with them) is not a concern. But, I know it could be an issue at times. I will need to tell people ‘no’ about things who were colleagues and who are friends. But, every decision I make, I think what is best for the kids.”
Another dynamic Baumcratz will have to handle is having his own kids in his building, although that is something he won’t have to worry about until the 2020-21 school year. His oldest son, Noah, is in sixth grade and his daughter, Sydney, is in fifth grade. He and his wife, Chrissy (Wolbert), also a North Clarion graduate, also have a three-month-old daughter, Olivia.
“Having my kids (in school) is not an issue for me,” Baumcratz said. “I treat my kids harder than any other. They will be the first to tell you as I coach them in basketball. There are a lot of pros and cons, but at the end of the day, it will be a good experience having them there with the closeness and the bonds that we will develop over the years.
“If they need disciplined, they need it. They know what I expect. I am more old school. If they get yelled out at school, they will get it worse at home. It will be a double whammy.”
Baumcratz is a 2004 graduate of Clarion University with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Art with a graphic design concentration. He went back to get his education degree from Clarion graduating in 2005 and then got his principal’s certificate from the University of Scranton in 2010. He replaces Vanessa Weinlein who resigned in May effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
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