Promising future


Caleb Sigmund

Mr. Crouther chats with Julia Bayless (11) and Ashley Jaspers (11) at second lunch, May 16.

It’s 7:25 a.m., the sun is brightening the sky. The birds are chirping. And Mr. Charles Crouther, head principal, is heading to his office where he puts his bags down and grabs his cup of coffee.

This particular morning he makes a hard left out of the office to head to the Science hall.

Before school he makes his rounds stopping into classrooms and greeting everyone, ensuring they are ready for the day.

By the time students arrive, Mr. Crouther has already touched base with half a dozen teachers and staff.

He is visible. He is walking through the hallways. He is chatting in the Commons. He is popping into classrooms.

“A great head principal is someone who can relate to the students, always has a positive attitude on everything, but always has a strong authority over the student body,” Audrey Dames (12) said. “Mr. Crouther is the greatest head principal I’ve ever had.”

From the classrooms to the fields, Mr. Crouther is all about relationships.

“I get to interact with students before school in the Commons, passing periods, bus duty and extracurricular activities, like sitting on the bench with the girls soccer team,” Mr. Crouther said.  “I talk quite a bit with one of the goalies. She says she’s the heavy hitter of the group. There’s a number 13 I give the business to in the hallways “Just incredible, very down-to-Earth people.”

He thinks of the students as the lifeblood of the campus.

“The principals represent the whole school. If a student feels like the principal doesn’t like them or out to get them, that will take a toll on their high school experience,” Abigal Lakey (11) said. “Most of us feel like Mr. Crouther is there for us and encouraging us. I feel like I am aware of what’s going on and what the administration is doing around the school.”

He encourages, talks and even jokes with students.

“In marching [band], we were in a certain position, and basically he came up to me and said ‘I’m going to punch you in the stomach,’” Andrew Fowler (11) said. “He didn’t do it, thankfully, but he acted like he was going to punch me in the stomach, and it led to him giving me advice on how to be in band. It turns out he used to play trumpet.”

That connection with the people around him, is a defining characteristic.

“I’ve noticed in my time here that the principals who are the most successful–and I’d say Mr. Crouther is one of them–knew the students,” Mr. Harry Witt, Language Arts teacher, said. “They would walk in the halls. They would be there at lunch not just to talk to other principals but to talk to students.”

He balances approachability with authority.

“A great principal is someone who has strong leadership skills, someone who is decisive, compassionate and listens to others before making decisions,” Ms. Stellhorn, photography teacher, said. “I think Mr. Crouther is very decisive. What he says goes, and that’s a great thing. Are there things he could work on? Sure, but we all have those.”

While he wants to be friendly with staff and students, he maintains the order of a campus of over 2,000 people.

“When I come to him with a problem, he acts on it and makes a decision,” Mr. Steve Wilson, hall monitor, said. “He comes to you with an answer, and it’s a well thought out answer. He brings his wisdom, experience and enthusiasm from other schools.”

Throughout the day, his schedule continues to fill up.

Answering emails, making calls, talking to staff and dealing with unforeseen issues are all parts of his daily routine.

Despite his busy schedule, he has learned it’s important to directly interact with the staff and students around the school.

He spends time in offices, classrooms, meetings and the cafeteria, so he can get up close and personal with the action on the front lines.

“I like his presence and visibility. He’s out walking in the halls, he’s talking to students, he visits my classroom a lot, and I like that. That’s important to me,” Ms. Stellhorn said. “So when he says ‘great job’ to me, I know he means it because he’s watched me do what I do best.”

Mr. Crouther is no stranger to education.

He was a student teacher supervisor at Missouri Baptist University, a teacher and principal as well as a member on the board of education at Ste. Genevieve School District.

Eureka has made a lasting impression on him.

“Here the attitude is very academically stable,” Mr. Crouther said. “There’s an emphasis on academic success you don’t find at all places. Of course, then you have the success of athletics and the arts, visual and performing. You’ve got OnStage!, theatre, you’ve got the Art Department with the great artwork in the [art] show. Very ,very good stuff. You’ve also got the band, the orchestra and Golden Line. So you have the visual and performing arts and the athletics here along with a very, very firm, stable academic success.”

EHS’ reputation extends beyond just academics.

“Everyone at EHS is just one big family,” Rylie Inglis (9) said. “I think it’s how we connect with each other. Like at football games in the student section with everyone. It’s all just one big family honestly.”

At the heart of the town, the school is integral to community’s identity.

“What makes EHS great is the sense of community. Many schools in St. Louis County area and in St. Louis are not considered neighborhood schools,” Ms. Jennifer Strauser, associate principal, said. “They’re just schools that are plopped down in the middle of retail areas or in the middle of subdivisions.They’re not really in a town, per say. Eureka is in a town. Our athletic events and events like theatre, the music program, are a place where people gather to socialize, in a place where people gather to consult each other. So I think with that community feeling in Eureka is what makes it great.”

And Mr. Crouther received a crash course on the Eureka community when the historic flood threatened it in December. He has already seen firsthand how the people of this community lift each other up in tragedy.

“Eureka has been through a lot over the past couple of years,” Dames said. “But our ability to bounce back and continue to grow is what sets us apart.”

Mr. Crouther watches as the students support and build each other up through both the highs and the lows.

One of his primary goals for the remainder of his term as head principal is to continue to uphold that family feeling and the extraordinary resilience of the community.

As his day continues, he meets with staff and students at lunch.

Mr. Crouther smiles and waves at a passing student in the hall on his way to the Junior-Senior Office to discuss end-of-the-year matters.

The 3:05 p.m. bell rings, but Mr. Crouther remains after bus duty until long after the majority of students are gone.

After attending several meetings, he heads out to the girls varsity soccer game to cheer on the Wildcats.

Finally, after meeting some students for the first time at the game and checking in with some familiar faces, he heads to his office and grabs his bags to head home for the night.

“There are a lot of things that are difficult for one principal to have. All human beings, all principals, teachers and students have strengths and weaknesses,” Mr. Crouther said. “It’s important to have a positive attitude and to not get discouraged even though you’ll face the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat. If you get down for a moment there is always going to be somebody or something, especially at this high school, to pick you up the next day and bring you right back into the upbeat spirit that I think a principal needs to have.”