Chris Crippen is a father, husband, friend, mentor, and teacher. He graduated in elementary education in 1999 from the McKay School of Education. Today he is the director of Y-Serve, a BYU program that helps students serve in the community. He loves his job because it allows him to help students and the community. The Crippen’s life has been dedicated to serving students.
After his mission, Crippen attended BYU–Hawaii and met his future wife, Sherelda. They married and had the first of their eight children before transferring to BYU so Crippen could complete his bachelor’s degree. In 2001 he earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Azusa Pacific University in California. Then, in 2013, he earned his educational administration license from Southern Utah University.
Crippen is now working with college-aged students, but a majority of his experience has come from working with children. Crippen worked as an elementary school teacher for 15 years. Growing up, Crippen had a desire to teach high school as his father did. When he was asked why he decided to teach elementary school, Crippen related an experience he had while serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Crippen served his mission in the state of Washington. At that time, missionaries had opportunities to volunteer in elementary schools and read to the students. As Crippen and the other missionaries spent more time with these students reading and playing football, he noticed that they flocked to him.
“I commented to the teacher and said, ‘What’s the deal?’” Crippen recalled. “She said, ‘They don’t have dads. They don’t have men in their lives.’ And that is when I realized that I knew what I wanted to do. I did not teach high school because I wanted to be with those little people. I enrolled in elementary education and I have never had a regret. I have just loved my experience. I have had years of opportunities to lift students and be a male role model they can look to.”
Crippen has always loved BYU, too. However, one of his biggest regrets as a Cougar was not trying out for the men’s volleyball team.
Crippen played volleyball at BYU–Hawaii and wanted to continue playing when he transferred to BYU. “I worked at the MTC and had two children by then,” he said. “I was going to the Richard’s Building on my way up to the MTC and I saw the volleyball walk-on try-outs poster. I remember looking at it in my shirt and tie and turning away and going to work. And forever I will regret that I did not go to the tryouts. I just wish I would have gone and tried. That happened to be the season they went on to be national champions." Later, as an elementary teacher, one of the lessons he taught to his students was to always reach for their dreams and have no regrets.
Interestingly enough, as Crippen’s children were growing up, Shawn Patchell, former head coach of the BYU men’s volleyball team, coached Crippen’s daughter on a club team and Crippen assisted. The coach told him that he could use some help with the summer BYU volleyball camp and wondered if Crippen would be interesting in assisting. He accepted and found the coaching experience very fulfilling.
Not only did Crippen have an opportunity to participate as a volleyball camp coach at BYU, but he also taught school again, becoming a third-grade teacher. He went on to become the assistant director at a charter school. When the director eventually had to step down, Crippen was called to fill the position. With little experience in this area, he worked hard to serve the students. Serving in this position ignited a spark in him to become a principal. He enrolled in Southern Utah University and earned his educational administration license.
These accomplishments and pursuits prepared Crippen for where he is today. Although he did not try out for the men’s volleyball team as a college student, there is one dream that he never gave up on: he always wanted to come back to teach at BYU. After moving to Utah in 2006, he began applying for a position at the university. In 2014, after applying several times, Crippen was asked to be the Y-Serve coordinator. He now teaches two courses at BYU and continues his legacy of serving students. The transition from teaching children to teaching young adults in his new position at BYU has been what Crippen called “a rewarding change.”
Crippen’s advice to teachers is to “find similarities and focus on students. Put your phone and papers down and put your focus on them. ‘Attend’ is a verb. Attendance is not just attending school; it is being present. Apply that to the classroom and give students your undivided attention and support.”
Crippen has dedicated his attention to his students, and it has made all the difference.
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922