As the academic year comes to an end, several staff members prepare to leave. Hence, The Woodstocker caught up with some of them to dig into their thoughts and future endeavors.
As he prepares to return to the United States, Mr. Andrew Crider recently talked about things he’ll miss about Woodstock: the close-knit community, the spiritual life, the students, and the mountains.
Mr. Crider has spent many years at the school, first as a student (Class of 1993), and later as a teacher and administrator.
His roots run deeper.
His father, Mr. Dana Crider, is a long-term Mussoorie resident activist, retired mathematics teacher, and Clifton Hostel supervisor. His mother, Mrs. Judith Crider, also worked as the principal’s secretary, an adviser to the Clifton Hostel dorm, and in the alumni office as well. She was also recently honored with Woodstock’s “Lifetime of Service” award.
Hence, the Criders are very much integrated into the hearts of the Woodstock and Mussoorie community. Mr. Andrew Crider, after teaching in Azerbaijan, returned in 2013 to teach for five years.
He is currently the Early and Middle Years Coordinator and teaches Religious Education to grades 5, 6, and 7.
Mr. Crider is also infamous for coming every now and then to an Upper Years assembly to talk about safety drills, usually giving demonstrations and maps on protocol across the school.
Because he has been part of the Woodstock community for so long, his departure comes as a surprise to many.
“It was a combination of a number of things: when they all kind of sat on the scale together, it tipped the balance that the decision needed to be made,” Mr. Crider said.
Mr. Crider’s oldest daughter, Charis Crider, Class of 2018, graduates this year; hence, he wants to help her adjust and transition to the college life. Additionally, one of his sons “needs some special care in the emotional struggles he goes through.” He was not able to find this care and assistance in India.
Mr. Crider is also leaving for professional growth, pursuing a masters degree in educational leadership and a principal certificate in Florida, United States.
Despite all these factors, his “heart is still here.” Although he doesn’t want to leave, not “everything could’ve been prim and rosey.”
As he departs, Mr. Crider takes with him values he acquired when he was at school: “As a student, learning how to interact with others that are different than yourself is a big thing that a lot of Woodstock students sometimes grasp the huge step up in life that they have,” he said.
According to him, it is only by leaving Woodstock that a student realizes how valuable it is in constructing their lives: mainly through an easy adaption of a global atmosphere.
Identity is another important trait he believes Woodstock teaches its students: “Knowing who you are, what your beliefs are, and what your culture is and why that’s important to you so that you just don’t cave in with everything around you and be one with the crowd,” he said.
Additionally, the most important lesson he learned at Woodstock was to be a person that is “there to support, care, listen, and encourage” his or her colleagues.
Woodstock, being a residential school located on a mountain, is isolated from most events in India. This is completely different from a school located in big cities, where students and staff “have lives outside of the school.”
Mr. Crider said that this results in the “entire community being rolled up together,” creating a very “fast-paced” lifestyle.
“Everything moves at such a fast pace: if you don’t join in, or you don’t join in well, or you join in too much, it can have a real impact on how your time is going to be,” he said.
On one hand, “It can be an exhilarating ride as you just get involved with what’s happening.” However, it can also be an “absolute nightmare if you keep everything within arm’s distance.”
What Mr. Crider will miss, however, is not the speedy nature of the school but the environment here.
Every morning, he runs, never missing any practice, whether it’s raining or snowing. His constant practices also led him to participate in numerous marathons like the Mussoorie Half Marathon.
He also maintains a greenhouse which uses an aquaponic system: instead of using dirt to grow the plants, it uses gravel beds with a constant water flow. He also recently finished building a second greenhouse.
Most of all, he is an avid hiker and participates in numerous hikes with his family and students throughout the year.
One memorable hike, recounted by his son Micah, Class of 2020, was their trip to Roopkund during the summer of 2014.
“We got lost in a hailstorm and we were on this plateau; it was so foggy and I couldn’t see anything at all. If there was a cliff in front of you, you couldn’t see it until you were at it. The only thing I could hear was my Dad yelling, ‘Micah, just keep going forward!’” he said.
Through a storm, Mr. Crider’s voice reverberated and persisted. His presence and aura made his son feel very “safe and secure” through the scary times that they were going through.
“He wasn’t thinking about anything besides getting me to safety,” Micah said.
This is a characteristic that defines Mr. Crider: the determination to put the needs of other people before himself.
The mountains have shaped him as a person; it comes as no surprise that he reflects upon them as he prepares to depart.
“I am definitely a cold weather, mountain type of a person; being in the outdoors, I just love the environment that Woodstock has. There’s just so much to see of creation around us and just be a part of God’s handy work around us,” he said.
“It’s just amazing.”
Photo by Faisal Qadir