Those who claim that the Scarsdale’s Nominating Committees only select longtime volunteers and Scarsdale insiders will be pleased to learn about the nomination of Woody Crouch by the Scarsdale School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC). Though he has lived here for 40 years and many do know him, he’s not the guy you would find at your PTA meeting. In fact, when I received notification of his nomination, my reaction was “Woody? … Woody who?” I’ve been publishing Scarsdale10583 for 10 years and have lived in Scarsdale for 28 years but had never crossed paths with Mr. Crouch.
In order to rectify that situation and find out why Woody wanted to run for the School Board, I scheduled a breakfast with him. While everyone else was enjoying an indoor snow day, Woody and I were huddled over coffee at the Parkway Diner where he shared his amazing life story.
Turns out, Woody grew up in a place that is about as far from Scarsdale as you can get. He spent his early years in Pineville, Louisiana, a town with a population of only 5,000 people. He told me that he’s been working almost everyday of his life, and it all began with a paper route when he was 10. In order to secure the newspapers, he had to ride his bike across a bridge over Red River and bring them back to Pinefield to deliver, some on dirt roads. At the time, papers sold for a nickel each.
As a student, he was always strong in math and ended up going to a larger high school in Alexandria, Louisiana. Not sure what to do upon graduation, he decided to attend a small Baptist college where he worked in the bookstore to support himself. His father was a veteran and spoke to the local Congressman about giving Woody an appointment to West Point – but when another student took the only available spot, Crouch was offered a place at the Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy in Great Neck, where he enrolled in the engine program and emerged an engineer.
From there, he spent a year at sea on a small cargo ship called the SS Harry Culberth and then came back to New York, where he landed a job at a naval architecture firm, designing the engine room of a destroyer.
Seeking a job with more security, Crouch walked into Con Edison headquarters at 350 Broadway and was hired on the spot. He spent seven years building a power plant and, from there, he got a job at the New York Power Authority, where he stayed for 30 years. During his tenure, he built New York State’s power infrastructure, negotiating with politicians and residents to allow major projects to extend through their neighborhoods.
Speaking about his ability to navigate controversy he said, “I would go into meetings where hundreds of people were up in arms about a power lines or plants in their communities, and by the end of the meeting no one was angry.” He managed large- scale installations on very tight deadlines, and was able to meet the schedules and get the jobs done on time.
Why does he want to serve on the Scarsdale School Board? Crouch says that he has lived in Scarsdale for 40 years and that his children attended the schools. He now has five grandchildren in the district, two in Edgewood, two in the middle schools and one in high school. He says, “I want to do the right thing for Scarsdale. I think I can make a difference.” With the schools district in the midst of plans for major renovations and infrastructure improvements, Crouch believes his knowledge of construction and engineering would be an asset to the Board of Education.
He also says he has an “understanding and respect for teachers, as his wife, two sisters and a brother were teachers. He said, “They are the most important part of the system,” and believes that we should “let our teachers be creative and use their strengths.”
Crouch continues to work as a consultant in the power field but has also found time for volunteers work in Scarsdale. He is known to many in town from his years on the Drake Edgewood Association, on the Scarsdale Neighborhood Association of Presidents (SNAP), as chair of the Edgewood Athletic Association and a coach for girls and boys basketball, soccer and softball teams. He is currently a Committee Member of Boy Scouts Troop 2 and a Merit Badge Counselor for Engineering, Energy, Citizenship in the Community and Family Life. He was on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of IHM CCD program and President of the U. S. Society on Dams.
Crouch’s grandson was born with Sturge Weber, a rare disease, and only lived for five months. This prompted Woody to get involved with Sturge-Weber Foundation where he served as the Chairman for six years and now serves as a Board member.
Even more striking than his depth of experience is his genuine willingness to listen. Crouch is open to many points of view, and eager to learn more about parents’ concerns and the challenges that face the Scarsdale Schools. His years of engagement with stakeholders statewide and his ability to forge agreements will serve him well if elected.
[Originally appeared on Wednesday March 28 on Scarsdale10583.com - link to the original article]