Despite coming from a family of educators, playing school when she was a little girl, and taking on leadership roles in high school, Dr. Trisha Craig began her college studies convinced she would not pursue a career in education. When her initial major of International Business didn’t suit her, she needed to reevaluate her plans. Fortunately, her supportive family helped her to realize her destined educational career path. Now the innovative principal of Fort Cherry Junior/Senior High School, Dr. Craig knows first-hand how vital it is for students to get guidance before they graduate.
“Guidance in high school is so important. We put a lot of emphasis on helping kids find the answer when it comes to what they want to do after high school, even if they don’t know where they’re going to go.”
Dr. Craig is a committed advocate of the Life Skills program, which enables high school students to work with food service employees, assist the school custodians or administrative assistants, or even shadow other paraprofessionals. Fort Cherry also offers plenty of other options, from aquaponics to advanced placement courses for college credit.
“We have programs based on student interests and the needs of the region,” Dr. Craig explained. “We’re very focused on ‘today’s student’ and what the expectations are for our graduates in the workforce . . . the strategy is about helping students find a path that is right for them.”
Graduating senior Regis Curtis expressed his admiration for Dr. Craig’s dedication to the students: “She exemplifies every quality that a successful and passionate academic administrator needs. In fact, she exceeds in her duties and makes efforts to bring students into the workings of the school. Awards are meant for passionate people who put their heart and soul into work worth doing, and Dr. Craig undeniably, as Theodore Roosevelt said, strives to ‘work hard at work worth doing.’ ”
But sometimes, students need help outside of school. A few years ago, Dr. Craig helped to launch the Fort Cherry Food Bank, which operates out of the elementary school. “We worked with Range Resources to pull this together – they made a big donation to get it going, along with help from the Greater Washington County Food Bank and other organizations.” The Fort Cherry Food Bank also provides opportunities for the Life Skills program, as students manage the pantry by stocking the supplies and putting the boxes together.
Dr. Craig has tirelessly worked to acquire the support that her school needs in order to provide innovative educational opportunities like the solar-powered outdoor classroom and weather station, the computer labs and maker spaces, as well as the agricultural science programs utilizing hydroponics. In the past ten years, she has secured more than $1 million in grants for the district.
Her passion for education has impacted hundreds of students and numerous teachers, and at the end of the day she says, that’s what is most important.
“It’s nice to get recognition, and of course, this is a huge honor for me. But I don’t need accolades to know I’m doing a good job – I do it because it needs to be done. My satisfaction comes from seeing the kids and teachers being successful.”