About John McCrossin
John was born on Jan. 30, 1956 in Dayton, Ohio, McCrossin graduated Lakes High School in 1974. He immediately enlisted in the Navy, serving onboard the USS Trenton as a personnel man, until 1976. From there he earned an Associate Degree from Tacoma Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Washington University, 1982. He took his first job in education at Fife School District that same year as a teacher and coach – actually a “jack of all trades,” which was the case for teachers in those days when they taught practically any subject requested of them.
Even though he would move on to other local school districts during his career, he always came back to Fife. McCrossin was a living example of what “Fife for Life” truly means, for his life revolved around the city and school district in which he and his wife of 34 years (and Lincoln High School teacher), Connie McCrossin, raised their two sons (and Fife High graduates) Kyle and Kevin. McCrossin enjoyed reading, golf, traveling, clamming and puttering but his greatest enjoyment was his family.
Always interested in exploring new things, McCrossin left Fife Schools for a while beginning in 1989. At Lincoln High School, in the Tacoma School District, he taught social studies and was head basketball coach. He earned a Master of Education in Educational Administration degree from University of Puget Sound in 1995, and completed an administrative internship while at Lincoln, serving as athletic director. That same year McCrossin moved on to the Sumner School District where he taught for one year at the junior high level and was head basketball coach and attendance coordinator. In 1999 he went to work for the Puyallup School District as assistant principal then came back to Fife for good in 2000 when then-Fife High School Principal Jeff Short recruited McCrossin as his assistant principal.
McCrossin was later promoted to principal at the high school, and it was during this time that he earned his superintendent certification from Seattle Pacific University (2004). In 2007, he was made principal at Surprise Lake Middle School (SLMS), which gave him new experiences to learn all about what goes on in the elementary schools and basic instruction.
After four years at SLMS, former Superintendent Steve McCammon approached McCrossin about coming to the district level as director of student services, which included the job of food services coordinator. This presented a brand new learning opportunity for McCrossin, as during this time he worked in Fife’s human resources department overseeing classified employees and he also took a place at the table among the district’s contract bargaining team, which provided him experience in how school finances operate, giving him an even bigger picture.
In 2013, McCrossin embarked on perhaps his biggest challenge as superintendent of the Fife School District. Considering McCrossin’s experience in so many different types of school districts and positions, Fife School Board President Bob Scheidt said the board was then, and is now, proud of its decision to have chosen McCrossin for the superintendent position. “It was a tough decision because there were other candidates that were qualified as well, but with the longevity John had in the district, we felt strongly that he should be the one,” Scheidt said. “To John’s credit, he knew there were things he needed to prepare himself for this – the different degrees he earned and positions he held. He was very qualified to run the district.”
Ask any of his co-workers and they will say that McCrossin’s stellar career in education was borne on the rare combination of personal and professional gifts that made him a beloved coach, teacher, principal, superintendent and friend to all who knew him.
To say that McCrossin loved the game is an understatement – he fell in love with the game in college and that love never wavered. In fact, he continued working with University of Puget Sound basketball players up until a couple of months before his death. His love for the game touched everything he did, as lessons learn on the hardwood often cross over to life itself. It was through basketball that McCrossin met one of his closest friends in the mid-1980s, Fife Municipal Court Judge Kevin Ringus.
“He had the gift of no matter who he came across, if you gave him the opportunity he would enhance your life,” Ringus said. “It didn’t matter what the scenario or what you were dealing with, he’d sit there and talk to you about it and you’d feel better when you left the conversation.” Ringus said this was especially apparent when McCrossin worked as principal at SLMS. Even though at more than 6-feet tall McCrossin towered over his young charges physically, on the inside he was at their level when it came to how he interacted with the little learners.
“He just blended right in,” says Ringus “He could sit with a third-grader and make that student feel like it was his show.”
“He had a passion for the game and a passion to teach. He took that passion into his general leadership as a building principal and superintendent as well – knowing your team. He put his heart and soul into being superintendent as he did in coaching – he did everything with purpose.
As a person, McCrossin’s character drew people to him because he really did care and people could sense it. He was genuinely interested in people. It didn’t matter who stopped by, he always had time. And if you stopped by, it wasn’t for a minute or two; it was always a good conversation. He was genuinely interested in your life.
McCrossin had a gift for accentuating the positive, even encouraging telephone callers to keep the sunny side up. This was the size of the man’s heart. His voicemail and e-mails for years always ended with ‘make it a great day. He truly believed that everybody could make it a great day no matter what. We miss you Johnny Mac!!!!!