Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Craig Barringer, Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Superintendent. Craig took the position as Superintendent in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 Coronavirus hit the community. This year, Craig has been having to navigate COVID-19 while living in Wyoming for the first time in his life.
Craig moved to Green River from Libby, Montana, where he worked as superintendent for 10 years. Prior to that position, he worked as a principal, and before that, a teacher. Craig takes great pride in being able to help students, in as small or large of capacity as he can, and set them up for success in their futures.
“There is nothing better than to see these people lead good lives and raise the next generation of fine people,” Craig said.
Craig, how did you get into education?
I got into education by accident. I went to college to wrestle and ended up going into education, which I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. When I student taught I realized I had chosen the right career path.
This is my thirty-fifth year. The first twelve I was a classroom teacher. The next 13 years I was a principal. I have been a superintendent for the past 10 years.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I believe that public education still gives kids no matter who they are or where they come from access to the “American Dream”, if they show up and work through the challenges. I have been fortunate over the years to see kids work through insurmountable obstacles to become successful adults. You cannot put a price on the pride you feel when you have played a role in helping that student overcome adversity and be able to lead a fulfilling life.
What has it been like being a superintendent in the time of COVID-19?
This time has presented unprecedented challenges. The most challenging part of is we have no past experience to lead us through this. The unknown can be scary, but this district has done an excellent job of preparing for the “what ifs?”. This well under way before I came to SWCSD No. 2. We have continued to prepare for the unknowns, but we have also worked to ensure that our students and staff experience as normal of a school year as possible.
I wish everyone could see what I see when I am in the buildings. Despite the stress of the pandemic, when the bells ring the school day looks very normal. Our staff have been outstanding in leading by example.
This time has made me as an educator appreciate the people I work with more than ever. It is not perfect, nor has it ever been, but the effort that I see people putting in every day is exceptional.
How did you end up in Green River?
I had heard from a principal in a neighboring community, who I used to coach, tell me about Green River’s reputation and what a good community it seemed to be. After visiting with him, I applied for the position.
Before coming to Green River I had held the same position in Libby, Montana. It is a wonderful place and a similar sized community.
I was raised in Darby, Montana. Currently, it is famous for the show Yellowstone, which is filmed partly in that area.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I have not met many people outside of school. COVID has played a role in many of the social areas where you would typically meet people.
Green River conveys a great first impression. People take a great deal of pride in this community. The parks are outstanding. The community is clean and people are proud to say they are from Green River. I look forward to meeting more people and learning more about what about the area.
What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy getting outdoors. I am hoping to spend more time fishing this spring and summer. I am looking forward to finding a few trails to hike on this summer.
I enjoy spontaneous traveling, and there are a lot of places in Wyoming I want to check out.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
School is a great place to fail… We have great supports that help kids learn from their mistakes and become more resilient. When kids are not allowed for that to happen we send out young men and women into the world who are quite as prepared for the obstacles that life will bring.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
Right now, it is school. There are so many great kids and adults in our hallways you can’t help but feel better when you see the optimism most bring.
I am looking forward to watching extracurricular events with full bleachers.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
I would rather walk and enjoy the scenery as I go.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Steve Carell, minus the oblivious leadership skills.
What would you sing at karaoke?
No chance I would sing in public, but if I did it would be Sammy Hagar “I Can’t Drive 55”. I have had many speeding tickets. In Montana, they are cheap.
How would your friends describe you?
I hope they could say that I am fun and I appreciate the time that we spend together.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
I think the role (even limited) that I have had in the success of many of the young men and women I have coached and taught. There is nothing better than to see these people lead good lives and raise the next generation of fine people.
Why do you enjoy living in Wyoming so far?
I enjoy the people I work with and get to see every day. I also enjoy Wyoming’s tough personality, which is a lot like Montana’s. The rest of our nation could learn from how Wyoming has persevered through this period of time.
I am really looking forward to wandering around the state and finding all the cool places I hear daily on the radio in the Wonders of Wyoming broadcast.