Planting a New Seed: Long time CF teacher to retire at end of year

By Audrey Kittrell 2008

At the end of the school year, Steve McCrea is handing in his title of ALPHA teacher for that of certified pumpkin grower.

McCrea, A CFHS staple for 16 years, is perhaps best known around the school for dismissing lunch shifts with his distinctive “Goodbye!” To others, McCrea has been a favorite teacher, friend and overall guide through many students’ high school careers. McCrea has been teaching for a total of 32 years including chronic disruptive dlasses, language arts, pet car, math, ALPHA and team teaching language arts enrichment, but he is ready to move on to retirement despite his mixed emotions of leaving.

“I am just physically tired. I’m ready to join my wife in retirement and do the things we’ve been talking about for years,” McCrea said.

The first thing on his flexible agenda: growing a giant pumpkin for contests around the state.

“My goal is to grow a pumpkin between 500 and 1,000 pounds. My heaviest pumpkin in the past weighed 350 pounds.”

McCrea hopes to advance his pumpkins in a national level contest, but for now he is focusing on his nonexistent schedule for the next year.

“I’ve been going to school or working full time since I was five years old with the exception of three summers,” McCrea said.

He also plans to pick up photography … again. Once upon a time, photography was a very important aspect in his career. Yet over the years, it got lost in the shuffle. McCrea also plans to visit relatives around the country and do some fishing on the Canadian border in the fall.

“I still have a lot of things I want to do. I’m having mixed emotions about leaving, but there’s just not enough reason to not retire. I just know I won’t miss the paperwork, red tape, rules and regulations.”

McCrea has been waiting for this year’s senior class to graduate before retiring, even though he recognizes he is leaving behind some other very gifted students.

“I have a really good sophomore class,” he said.

McCrea made his retirement announcement to staff and students half way though first semester of this year.

“My students are bribing me to stay, but the teachers are telling me to have a good time and enjoy it. I think they kind of which they were in my position.”

McCrea is planning on continuing his well-known ALPHA reunion that takes place each Christmas to keep in contact with his students. The ALPHA reunion gathers students spanning McCrea’s teaching career.

“I still see students from my first year of teaching that are now almost 40 years old. I want to make sure to keep that going even if I’m not teaching.”

McCrea was instrumental in defining ALPHA, the talented and gifted program, by designing much of the curriculum. This includes his favorite class, early bird ALPHA.

“I helped design and direct the original early bird ALPHA plan, but let the students reformat it when they didn’t like my plan.”

Early bird ALPHA covers a wide variety of topics, but is highlighted by McCrea’s film study and the Immoral and Always Wrong unit.

McCrea’s easygoing attitude and flexibility in teaching makes him a very popular teacher with the students.

“I love how the students have the freedom to decide what they want to learn, and I’m just there to help direct and help them. They’re really passionate about what they do that way. Where else do you get that?” McCrea asked.

McCrea gives his credit to influential teachers that have helped shape his teaching methods over the years.

“I’m a 1965 graduate from Cedar Falls and a fifth generation teacher. The teachers through the years from every department have given me encouragement, suggestions , support and taught me a lot. A lot of them probably don’t even know I stood outside of their doors to listen to their teaching,” McCrea said.

Though McCrea doesn’t know who will be taking over his position, he is certain about one thing: “The kids. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”

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