Shanna Crofton Shanna Crofton

Through her work in education, Brunswick High School principal Shanna Crofton has continued working towards the common good since her graduation from Bowdoin in 2001. Crofton graduated with a dual degree in Government & Legal Studies and History. A native of Nova Scotia, Crofton moved to Maine and attended Gorham High School her senior year, and after graduating she attended Bowdoin from 1997-2001. While a student at Bowdoin, she was heavily involved in community outreach. Having an interest in law and education, she regularly volunteered at the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project in Portland. She also provided academic support and mentoring for her peers, helped build homes through the Habitat for Humanity organization, was on the Residential Life staff and played volleyball.

Habitat for Humanity is an organization she has kept up with regularly since graduating. "I've been involved with [Habitat] since Bowdoin and I've done builds in several different countries," said Crofton. Through the organization she has traveled to various locations, including many regions of Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan, to build homes.

Besides staying involved in Habitat for Humanity, Crofton has pursued the common good by being a teacher, mentor and educational administrator. Right out of Bowdoin she worked as a dorm parent and Campaign Associate at Miss Porter's School in Connecticut for a year. While there she also helped various student organizations like Habitat for Humanity and coached volleyball.

From there she went to teach and be an administrator at the Leysin American School, an international school in Switzerland for three years. "It was kids from about 15 different countries so it was a really interesting population," said Crofton.

After three years, Crofton came back to the United States to pursue a degree in Organizational Management at the School of International Training in Vermont. This degree taught her the ins and outs of managing nonprofit organizations in developing regions of the world. In the two year program she spent one year in Vermont and the second year abroad doing her practicum in Kyrgyzstan and Switzerland. In Kyrgyzstan she worked at the University of Central Asia in the development office, focusing on financial and educational development. "It was basically establishing an understanding of what and why you would fundraise and what the purpose of it is."

Crofton then went back to Switzerland to finish her practicum. She ended up staying in Switzerland for another two and a half years after her practicum ended. She wanted to continue doing education work while in Switzerland and she also met her husband. From Switzerland, Crofton moved to Toronto to be the Director of Senior School Administration at Branksome Hall, an all-girls private school. "I had worked with an international system, meaning kids coming from everywhere, languages not being their first language and then I wanted the opportunity to work in a school where it was primarily local residents but with a very international flavor."

After two years, however, the international world called out to her once more, specifically India. For two and a half years Crofton was the head of a new international secondary school in Mumbai, India. Crofton enjoyed the fact that the program had 80 percent local residents and only 20 percent international students. "It was a really different mix of cultures so you had students who were only educated traditionally in a route system coming into an international program." Crofton enjoyed the challenge of crafting a new education system in an environment that had both students and teachers who were only accustomed to being taught and teaching a certain way.

Although she loved living abroad and teaching abroad, Crofton decided after India to move back home to Maine to be closer to her family. "I've got my parents who are in Freeport and I've got my brother, sister-in-law and the kids in Portland. That combined with this position opening was the perfect storm." In 2014, Crofton became the new principal at Brunswick High School. "I really wanted to work in a public school. That was the one thing I hadn't done. I went to public school so I'm pretty committed to public education so it was nice to have the chance to do that."

Whatever role she is in, Crofton has always wanted to strive for the common good. "I've always wanted to know that I was working in some type of service profession, meaning community service or public service," she says. "Here at Brunswick there is a very significant support for community service in general. Our community service coordinator does a phenomenal job of getting students involved and one of my roles is supporting that and really trying to help grow those programs alongside him."

In looking towards the future, Crofton said that her goal is "to become more aligned with a particular organization that I can contribute to regularly." While in Mumbai, Crofton partnered with a slum school where she was able to see the development of kids outside of the international school and was able to connect with the greater community. She hopes to partner with a similar organization or program in her new position. "When you see those kids in an ongoing basis you get to know them and you get to see how they grow and the changes that come about from them," said Crofton. This is one of the aspects of doing work for the common good that she particularly enjoys.

Crofton understand how difficult it is to pursue a career in nonprofit work or in education. "I think service work lends itself well to someone who has grit. You have to have grit in order to be successful," she said. She also said that anyone interested in nonprofit work has to be flexible and open to challenges. "You need to be able to persevere because it's not easy. You have to love what you are doing," said Crofton.