Making a Difference: Alumni Teachers Embrace Innovation in the Classroom

Impacting a Community Through Education

by Eric Foster

Brendan Cregan ’89 (Mansfield) never envisioned becoming a school administrator.  “I’ve always liked school,” says Cregan, secondary principal at Hempfield School District. “As a student, I only missed one day in four years of high school. I liked the camaraderie. I liked the teachers, even in the classes in which I didn’t do well.”

This made education a natural fit for Cregan. For college, he chose Mansfield, now part of Commonwealth University, after visiting his older sister, who was studying education. “Everybody was genuinely friendly. My three sisters and a brother graduated from Mansfield, and two became teachers.”

“I could have never done the big school scene. The smaller setting was exactly what I needed,” says Cregan, president of Mansfield’s Alumni Association Board. “At Mansfield, I learned that the details matter—when you’re preparing a lesson and when you’re meeting with parents. In my role as principal, the details matter.”

“I taught social studies for 10 years. It was always about building relationships with students and helping them find the best path for themselves,” he said. “It wasn’t about the content. It was about the student. I was teaching students. You’re using the content to teach the person.”

The importance of building relationships has been a cornerstone of his career. “It’s very easy to get stuck behind your desk, to get away from being involved. Even as an administrator, I try to spend as much time in the hallways and classrooms as I can,” Cregan said. “In administration, you’re trying to make a change in the ‘who’ system to help students. Each step impacts a different level of the community,” says Cregan. “They’ve all had different rewards. As a principal, I get to see a broader spectrum of what students do.”