Beaverton teacher Jeff Crapper leads a career and technical education camp for multilingual children in 2019, shortly after being elected to the Dayton School Board. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Crapper)
In addition to adopting two children, Crapper and his wife, Rhonda, have taken in three foster children and 15 “bonus kids,” young people who needed a place to stay for a while.
Crapper’s time on the Dayton School Board is just another extension of his lifelong commitment to helping all students get what they need.
His award-winning teaching career began in 2001 in Sherwood. He holds teaching certificates in science, math, English speakers of other languages, health education, physical education and career and technical education in health science, fire science and engineering. He now is a teacher on special assignment supporting CTE programs for the Beaverton School District.
In recent years, he has become a trainer on trauma-sensitive teaching practices. He will be presenting Friday, Nov. 11, at OSBA’s 76th Annual Convention on “Investing in trauma-informed education.”
The Crappers moved from Sherwood to Dayton in 2007. Jeff Crapper said he wanted a more multicultural environment and he admired the school district’s CTE programs. He ran for the school board in 2019 largely because he thought his CTE experience could help restore a program he thought had been damaged by administrative conflict.
“My community was in chaos,” he said.
Dayton Superintendent Steve Sugg was hired in 2020 and is retiring at the end of this school year. He said Crapper brings his many talents to bear on helping the school district, from volunteering as a team sports trainer to applying his educator’s lens to school policies.
“He just has a heart for kids and staff as well,” Sugg said.
Dayton, a small community between McMinnville and Newberg, has nearly 900 students in the school district, almost 40% of whom are Latino. Crapper also became a school board member because he wants to support students of color.
Crapper is white, but his two adopted children are from Ethiopia. He knows he doesn’t share the lived experiences of students of color, but his children give him a window into their challenges.
“I want to make sure we are creating situations for all students to succeed,” Crapper said.
Crapper and his wife, who is a Dayton teacher, share a commitment to opening their home to children. Rhonda said they always knew they wanted to adopt, even before they had their biological son, Kyler.
Thirteen years ago, they adopted Kalkidan, who was 13, and Mintesnot, who was 6. They are not biologically related. Crapper said each of his children has broadened his view of the education system.
Kalkidan spoke English, but she still had to spend time in the English language development program. Crapper said he learned just how literal new English speakers can be, and it shaped his teaching practice to be more concrete during instruction.
Kalkidan is a teacher herself now in the South Umpqua School District. She said her dad is “an open door” for any student who needs help, in school or out. In addition to foster children, the Crapper family has harbored teens for months at a time when they didn’t have a good place to live.
With Kyler, who is 17, Crapper saw what it was like to have a child with an accommodated learning plan. Crapper said Kyler was the kind of student who thrived with more hands-on instruction, an ideal CTE candidate. Kyler earned all his high school credits early and is an apprentice with the Pacific Northwest Carpenters Union.
Crapper is also an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, and at 15, Kyler started going with his dad to drills. Kyler joined the fire department at 16, and they talk fondly of their work together.
“How many people can say they put out a major fire with their son?” Crapper said.
Mintesnot and the mental health issues he has faced have influenced Crapper’s path.
“I battled through a lot of trauma,” Mintesnot said, “and they provided everything to get me through it.”
Mintesnot said that’s just who his dad is.
“He just doesn’t do it for our family,” he said. “He does it for everyone who reaches out.”
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green often tells school board members that one of the highlights of service is handing your child a diploma. Crapper said he joined his school board wanting to have that experience.
While helping Mintesnot, Crapper delved into trauma-sensitive education practices. Starting in 2020, Crapper became one of the lead instructors for the Oregon Education Association's four-part graduate-level series on “Becoming a Trauma Informed Educator.”
“I want to be sure kids like my son have the best fighting chance,” Crapper said.
Crapper has been a middle school and high school science and CTE teacher and has helped develop CTE programs at the Mount Angel and Beaverton school districts. He is a national board certified teacher as well as a certified personal trainer. He has been at Beaverton since 2013 and was a biology, health and health sciences CTE teacher before becoming a teacher on special assignment to provide leadership for the district’s CTE programs. Among other teaching awards, he was named the 2021 CTE Teacher of the Year for Oregon.
Crapper steps up for new challenges. In April, he was named to the OSBA Board’s Yamhill/Polk Region position. He said he has wanted to quit the Dayton School Board at times, but his contacts with OSBA supported him and encouraged him. He tries to pay that forward.
Crapper said classroom visits in Dayton keep him grounded.
“When you actually go and see it in practice and you see what educators are doing,” he said, “you are reminded why you are putting yourself in this volunteer role and why you are being an advocate for kids.”
- Jake Arnold, OSBA