He says students will always come first, he and his family will generally always be last and that he’s very family focused.
Paul Croghan says that when it comes to him, the son of dairy farmers from Manning, what you see is what you get, and he seems that way.
Croghan started July 1 as Nodaway Valley and CAM’s shared superintendent. He shared those three tenets with a group gathered in an open interview just hours before he was hired. He still holds those as key points he’s taken into his new role.
Croghan is the August subject of the “People of Adair County” story series, which prints the first week of each month in the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer. School starts at NV Friday, Aug. 23.
“This is the business, that we’re about kids and the future. If we’re not doing what’s best for the kids then we’re in trouble. That’s my thought process,” Croghan said. “I’m a public servant. That means you serve others before you serve yourself. I find time to take care of myself and my family, but a lot of times it’s work-related things first. Take care of those things then prioritize from there.”
Croghan says he’s taken a business-like approach into the real world from his upbringing — there were 13 children in his family. His wife, Brenda, who grew up near Templeton, came from a very similar environment with 11 children in her family. The Croghans have five children.
“We had the pleasure of growing up in an atmosphere where you didn’t always get what you wanted. It was probably the best way that we were taught, that if you didn’t have everything you wanted you worked for anything you ever wanted. They took care of everything you needed, but with different personalities you had to get along with others and you had to share,” Croghan said.
“All five of our kids have different personalities, different needs, different educational needs, and they fit into any school system in the spectrum of what the schools are trying to do,” Croghan continued. “I’m the luckiest man around. I have a great wife who understands the business and the time commitment. She supports it and supplements it too, as far as doing some of the things I need done to make it happen so I’m productive.”
Croghan describes himself as “blue collar” and says “what you see is what you get.” He has made several stops in his career, including his alma mater, Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla. The principal/activities director who hired him there, Bill Miller, is who he has tried to emulate in his leadership styles in many ways. Croghan says his dad was “as honest as the day is long” and did business without contracts.
“Bill had been in the business for 35 or 40 years. He was the father figure who taught me and I probably replicate my administrative traits around how he did things — you trust people, you hire good people and you give them the freedom to do the job that they need to do. You ask questions when things don’t seem right to you and you figure it out together,” Croghan said. “He hired me to coach basketball even though I had never [played organized basketball]. I asked him if he had anybody better and he said ‘You’re hired.’ We’re blue collar, come to work everyday and we figure hard work compensates for our weaknesses.”
One of Croghan’s most primary goals here is to continue to learn about each of the districts he’s in charge of. Being leader of two districts at once is not a foreign concept to Croghan at all. He most recently was the shared superintendent of Essex and East Mills.
Croghan stated that one of the biggest action steps he and the school’s administrative team can take now is matching up resources with goals.
“Accountability to the students, staff and community is that we do the best job we can with the resources we have. We have to align those. We’ve had talks about facilities, so as superintendent, we’ve walked every building from the roof all the way to the boilers. We want to make sure we’re we’re doing things right with the resources we have and are putting a plan in place to keep our buildings in good shape and meet the educational needs of our kids. You can have a nice building, but if you’re not cutting it in the classroom, you have to start in the classroom. That goal will also always be there.”
Croghan has what he calls an “open door” policy and says “we’re trying to work together” and “build bridges with the community.”
“You think I’m busy, but don’t be afraid to come up and have a conversation with me. You don’t think I’ll have the time, but I’ll always try and find the time to have a conversation with people and see how all the pieces fit together,” Croghan said. “You have to be futuristic and keep putting the pieces together to keep things going and keep things sustainable.”