One of the first impressions Shanna Crofton made on her roughly 800 Brunswick High School students was in a popular YouTube video. Since it was posted Sept. 5, the video has had nearly 5,000 views.
In it, Crofton boogies to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” song in the main office. The video then cuts to other school employees — teachers, cafeteria workers, librarians, et al — all grooving to the upbeat tune.
Crofton said she was delighted to participate in the “Welcome to BHS” video and that she was happy most of the employees (the school has 86 teachers and 41 support staff) also agreed.
“The teachers here are so committed,” she noted, citing this as one of the reasons she decided to leave her previous position, as a school administrator in Mumbai, India, to take the Brunswick job. “People here value education, and the school system has the drive to provide strong services and programs,” she said. “But the selling factor for me was the kids. They’re a really, really good group of kids.”
After graduating from Bowdoin in 2001 with a double major in history and legal and government studies, Crofton said that at age 22 she was uncertain whether to pursue a career in education or law. She had taken several education classes at Bowdoin. “Nancy Jennings [associate professor of education] had a very profound impact on my career choice because she was my professor for my first education course and I was hooked after my first class with her,” Crofton said. Then, at her first job out of college at Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut, Crofton made up her mind. “Being in education is rewarding and fulfilling,” she said. “I enjoy seeing a kid get it, when they learn something and then can articulate it and put it into practice.”
Crofton’s decision set her down a unique career path that has taken her to Switzerland, Canada, Kyrgyzstan, India, and now, finally, back home. While she was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she moved to Gorham, Maine, as a high school senior with her family. Her mother, Betsy Mitchell, is a librarian at the Brunswick junior high school. Her parents and her brother’s family still live in Maine, and Crofton said Maine and Nova Scotia both feel like home to her.
Crofton’s most recent position was head of the secondary school at Oberoi International School in Mumbai. She started at the private school two and a half years ago. “It was an opportunity you can’t pass up, especially if, like me, you’re interested in international education and comparative education,” she said.
Prior to that, she worked at Branksome Hall in Toronto, University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan and Leysin American School in Switzerland (where she met her British husband, Andrew Crofton, who has taken an IT job with Hebron Academy).
Crofton has graduate degrees from University of New England, based in Biddeford, Maine, and School for International Training, in Brattleboro, Vermont.