Cronin accepts Sheyenne principal job in wake of Grooters' death
The loss of a friend is not the way Pam Cronin wanted to be named West Fargo Sheyenne High School's principal.
Cronin was announced as Sheyenne's second principal just 144 days after the death of Greg Grooters, Sheyenne's first principal who led West Fargo's transition to a second high school.
After stepping up from assistant principal to acting principal, the interim tag was removed and Cronin's hire was announced on the West Fargo School District's Twitter account on April 7.
Grooters, who suffered from cancer, didn't stop working until his final weeks. Though he was in pain, Cronin said, Grooters left a legacy which will be hard to follow.
"It's a lot to live up to," Cronin said. "I just want to continue what he started. He believed every student should have all the opportunities that are out there and wanted to be involved with the kids even in his last days here. He was always positive with the kids, asking what they were doing. That's just who he was."
Cronin, who's from Hibbing, Minn., earned her bachelor's degree from the University of North Dakota and got her first teaching job in Grand Forks in 1991. She earned further education from the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) before working in Colorado Springs, Colo., for three years as a teacher and administrator. She was then the principal in Larimore for eight years before coming to West Fargo. Cronin is in her 10th year working at Sheyenne where she and Grooters worked on Sheyenne's ninth-grade center.
"It was just the two of us for a number of years," Cronin said. "We worked really well together as a team and complimented each other's strengths. It's a positive place to work here at Sheyenne because of that."
When Grooters died, Cronin was named acting principal and Ryan Salisbury was moved up from a teacher's coach to acting assistant principal and a teacher was moved into Salisbury's role, which includes placing students at the correct class level based on test scores and previous school performance.
Cronin and Salisbury applied for permanency and went through a formal hiring process. Cronin was interviewed by a group of teachers, district staff and administrators and then by a group of students.
The interviewers gave their input to school district superintendent David Flowers and assistant superintendent of secondary education Allen Burgad, who made the final hiring decision. Salisbury is still in the application process to be named an assistant principal and a second assistant principal is expected to be added as well.
Cronin said Sheyenne won't be changing nearly at all with her at the helm. She's hoping to keep Grooters' values at the forefront.
"When you have a job like this, this is your personal life as well," Cronin said. "It's really tough. (Grooters) was more than a coworker. We were good friends and spent a lot of time together. It's hard to take."
Though Grooters ran plenty of decisions by Cronin, she's found out there's more to the job than she thought. Cronin will have to make more final decisions including on budget-related issues which she always depended on Grooters for. He took a brunt of that work, Cronin said, but shared plenty with her which helped prepare her.
Most of Cronin's surrounding staff are also hired under Grooters, which also makes the transition easier.
"You've got a staff who understood who he was and they want to continue on that path too," Cronin said. "They care about kids and what they're doing and focus on making Sheyenne a family, not just a school kids have to go to."
Grooters memorial run scheduled
The Greg Grooters Memorial 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, at the Sheyenne track and field complex. Packet pickup and registration begins at 7 a.m., a half-mile race run for kids 12 years old and younger begins at 8:30 a.m., the 5K starts at 8:45 a.m. and awards begin at about 10 a.m. Participants will receive a Greg Grooters memorial T-shirt, after-race drinks and snacks. Funds raised will be donated in Grooters' name to provide scholarships for Sheyenne students.