Career 2.0 — Justin Crawford


JOPLIN, Mo. — Many of us expect the 13 years of education to get to a high school diploma. Add another four years if you want a college degree. But for one local teacher, he would go back for an advanced degree then later return for law school.

Justin Crawford, Joplin, said, “I would like to say that I had a perfect plan and it all fell into place but actually that’s not the fact.”

So when Justin Crawford started his career as a high school teacher, he had no idea what the future would hold. He would spend a decade focusing on at-risk students and English classes.

“I loved reading and I wanted to read and study a lot of those classics.”

He also started learning more about technology. So when the 2011 tornado prompted the district to move to one-to-one learning, Crawford became an Instructional Coach.

“That was a significant move, stepping out of the classroom. In fact I can remember my principal and administrators at the time wondering if I’d be successful because of how successful I’d been in the classroom and knew that I loved kids.”

He liked the change, but the tornado also prompted a new focus on the big picture.

“Kind of took that time to reevaluate my life and where I was I decided I want to try this, I don’t want at the end of my life or the end of my road have any regrets and say well I could’ve, should’ve.”

The new goal was law school. Crawford enrolled at Washburn University in Topeka. But once he graduated and passed the bar, he quickly reconnected with the past.

“Dr. Sachetta said, ‘How would you feel about coming back to Joplin schools?’ It would feel like coming home and it really has been.”

But still a big change, now working for the district in charge of Human Resources and PR.

“I’ve always had the technology aspects but as far as public relations that’s something new that’s been a learning curve.”

On the other hand, Crawford says many of his HR responsibilities are tied into the law, an even more so dealing with the school board.

“So while I’m not practicing law per se – there’s a lot that I do in my day-to-day job that’s legal work.”

And he doesn’t rule out future career changes working in the law. But for now, Justin Crawford is happy where he’s at.

“I feel blessed to be here.”

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