Principal's transition from leading sports to leading junior high fulfilling
Here's the Bruce Bean Philosophy of Coaching: "You can learn the X's and O's of the game pretty quickly. Developing the effectiveness of the team is the hard part, that's the real challenge of coaching."
It's no surprise that he has carried that philosophy into academic administration as principal of Mont Harmon Junior High School in Price. He allows that the technicalities of the job are important, but emphasizes that without teamwork and winning attitude among all the players, the chances of success are slim to none.
"With teachers, I have to realize that I'm dealing with professionals who really want to succeed. I view my job as working to give these professionals the tools they need," he says.
With students, he insists that young people need to be challenged in academics and social skills, much the same as young athletes need challenge in competitive sports. "Give them limits, let them know the consequences. They want to be successful," he states.
He feels that students should not load up their curricula with courses that look easy. There's not enough challenge there to develop the mind.
"For example, if you look at baseball, it's basically a losing sport," he points out. "I mean, if you are batting .400, you are at the top of the game. But you are also striking out most of the time."
He feels there's no shame in earning a B or a C in a tough course.
Mr. Bean has spent most of his 23 years in education as a coach and biology teacher. Name a sport and he has coached it, he quips. Volleyball, football, basketball, track...and he recalls that he has had some very good seasons, which looks impressive on a resume.
"I had some opportunities to leave [for a coaching job elsewhere], but working up the ladder in coaching is not always what's best for yourself or your family," he says.
The major part of the decision to stay in the area, he explains, is that he and his wife are sold on Carbon County as a place to live and raise a family.
But until 1987, he wasn't even sure where Carbon County was. He did have a friend, Eli Draculich, a retired Logan police chief, who used to rave about the county.
"Best kept secret in Utah," Draculich told him.
So when Bruce Bean, fresh out of Utah State University, was shopping around for his first job, Carbon County was on the list. He gave his resume to the assistant superintendent of the Carbon School District, got a call to interview, and was accepted as a biology teacher and coach at Mont Harmon.
From there he went to Carbon High, again to teach human biology and coach sports. He moved into administration as vice principal at Carbon, then took the next step when he was appointed principal at Mont Harmon for the 2009-2010 school year.
As a teacher and administrator, he has seen the profession change over the years.
"Education is drastically changing. You can get post-graduate degrees now without ever setting foot on campus," he notes.
There is also the fact that in technical subjects, any information a student may learn at school is sure to be obsolete by the time he or she enters the workplace. As a result, he views teachers as "facilitators" rather than lecturers. Instead of saying, "Here's what I know and what I think you should know," teachers are saying, "I am going to teach you how to learn."
Technology is a great tool, but he is concerned that there is a tendency to look at education as a mere accumulation of facts as a result. The face-to-face communication between student and teacher cannot be replaced with computers and monitors.
As far as problems goes, Bean admits that the district has its share.
"Is there a problem with alcohol and drugs? Yes. We have issues here, just like everywhere else. But you can't lose sight of the many good things that our schools and community have to offer." The problems, he says, have to be recognized and worked on. Also, he notes, the vast majority of students are staying out of trouble.
Work and adversity are part of life, he says. And he knows from personal experience. He was growing up in Sugar City, Idaho, back in 1976 when the Teton Dam disaster struck southern Idaho.
"My house was the only one on the block that was left standing," he recalls. "But it had been turned 180 degrees so it had to be demolished." The home of his future wife, closer to the dam in St. Anthony, was obliterated. "They never found it."
"Something like that shapes you for the rest of your life," he says. So does learning that you have cancer.
He fought and beat that disease in 1994.