“I was interviewing in Oregon, Montana and Chicago, but I really liked it here,” he said.
So when Grand County Board of Education president Jim Webster called and offered him the job, Crane said it was an easy decision.
Crane grew up living on a farm in Burley, Idaho.
“I was a normal farm kid,” he said. “I did all the work you do on a farm ... I spent 19 years driving tractors, irrigating crops and hauling hay.”
In the summer, Crane and his friends cooled off by swimming in the canal.
“It was a normal farm kid existence.”
After graduating from high school in Burley, Crane attended Brigham Young University for a year before heading to Peru to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Then I went back to Brigham Young University and decided that I liked teaching,” Crane said. “I’d always enjoyed history, so I went into history with a minor in Spanish and coaching.”
While attending BYU, Crane met his wife, Kathy. After he graduated, Crane was offered a job as a migrant resource teacher, working with Spanish-speaking students to help them develop their English skills and work on their homework.
Eventually, Crane decided that he wanted to have more influence on the kids, and he felt the best way to do that was by joining the administration team. Over the summer, he returned home to help his parents on the farm, while attending classes at Idaho State University.
“We’d carpool there four times a week,” he said. “I’d get up at six, drive to Pocatello, go to classes and drive home. Then I went out and worked on the farm until dark. After that, I had to do homework.”
The hard work paid off, though, when Crane received his master’s degree in education administration. It didn’t take long before Crane was offered a job as an assistant principal in Blackfoot, Idaho.
In the years that followed, he worked as an assistant principal at the high school and a principal at the middle school.
When the Blackfoot School District’s superintendent took a job out of state, the new superintendent offered Crane a chance to move up in the administrative ranks.
“He asked me to be his business manager and secondary education specialist,” he said. “I was sitting on my back deck, and the superintendent comes over and says, ‘I need you to work tomorrow.’”
The next year, Crane was offered a position as assistant superintendent.
“It had all the same duties, it just added more,” he said.
Crane stayed in that job for 10 years and was offered the superintendent position when his former boss retired. After five years as superintendent in Blackfoot, Crane decided he was fed up with Idaho politics.
“Education had really taken a negative turn with No Child Left Behind. The way they were treating educators, especially teachers, was just ... there’s no good words,” he said.
By then, Crane and his wife had both served in the school district for enough years to be able to retire, so they took their retirement and started looking for jobs elsewhere.
“I came and interviewed here, and I really liked it,” Crane said of Grand County.
Between March and June, the Cranes made several trips to the area to meet with members of the school board and administration. They also bought a house.
“I don’t know if you’re supposed to buy a house in one day, but we did,” he said.
Crane started as superintendent on July 1, 2012.
“I’ve really enjoyed being here,” he said. “I tell people I’ve made three really good decisions in my life. The first was marrying Kathy ... The second was deciding to get into administration, and the third was moving here.”
A love for education runs in the family. Crane’s wife, Kathy, is a kindergarten teacher at Helen M. Knight Elementary School, and she has written several books about teaching methods. The couple has two children. Their daughter Lindsey is a kindergarten teacher in Lehi, and their son Sean is planning to pursue a career in education as well.
“It’s kind of our family career,” Crane said. “I’m very proud of all of them.”
Crane emphasized that schools don’t create teachers.
“I think teachers are born,” he said. “We just help them hone their skills.”