My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties


Keith, Hunter (son), Michele (wife), Kristi (daughter-in-law), & Jared (son).  Submitted photo.

Keith Crispell did branch out west for a few years, but his roots are in Wisconsin.  He is making the move back to the Badger State and will take the position of superintendent in the Prentice School District for the 2024-2025 school year.

Keith grew up in Necedah, Wisconsin, just over an hour north of Madison.  His parents are Arlene Siegler-Robinson and the late Lester Crispell.  His dad and grandfather had businesses in the area, and he believes that is where he learned his work ethic.

"My dad was phenomenal; he worked 364 days a year, and that is no joke.  He took off Christmas, and that was it.  But he still found time for his family," Keith said, noting he was a great father to him and his sister, Kim.  "My dad worked in the restaurant business, and he knew everybody.  He could talk to anyone about anything, which is just phenomenal."  Keith expressed that he is striving to walk in his dad's footsteps in that regard.

After high school graduation, he and his sister both pursued degrees in education.  Keith graduated from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse with bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education.

After college, Keith married Michele.  They have two sons, Jared and Hunter.  During this time, Keith furthered his education, obtaining his principal's license through Viterbo University.  He received his superintendent education through the University of Edgewood and is currently working toward his doctorate with that same university.

Family life is important to Keith, so the Crispell's stayed in Wisconsin while their sons were growing up.  The family really embraced the outdoors.  For all his life, Keith has enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor adventures.  His family used to have a cabin on the Chetek chain of lakes, and it's no secret that Keith loves to fish and be outdoors.  "When I’m not chasing whitetails or walleyes, I enjoy a variety of do-it-yourself challenges which include making my own fishing lures, building rustic furniture, and constructing off-the-grid log cabins," Keith shared.  He also has season tickets in the northern end zone for the Packers games at Lambeau Field.  He has fully embraced the Wisconsin lifestyle.

While living that Wisconsin lifestyle, both Jared and Hunter grew up, as children do.  Now adults, they currently live in Southern Wisconsin and work as strategic pricing analysts at two different companies.  Keith stated he and his wife are both impressed with and really proud of their sons.

However, since their sons were well-established, Keith and Michele thought it was a good time to try something new.  He said they realized, "There's more out there than what we are experiencing.  Let's go on a little adventure!"  At the time, Keith was wanting to get into administration.  A friend of his had moved out to the Creede, Colorado area, and he told Keith about a position that opened up there.  "I was hired as an elementary principal and a K-12 Dean of Students.  The plan was for me to replace the current principal.  He was ready to retire after being with the district for over 40 years, but I was approached by the board president to see if I could apply for the superintendent position and happenstance put me in that role."  Keith explained he started his initial administrative position in Creede right around the time COVID-19 hit, so there was a lot of chaos for all schools and a lot of adjustments needed to be made, but he was up to the challenge.

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While there, he got used to the small town vibe.  According to the Internet, Creede, Colorado has a population of 276, but Keith said the locals would say it is closer to 390.  He said, with laughter in his voice, that they do not put the population numbers on town signs in Colorado; instead, they give the elevation of the land.  He is currently living at about 9,000 feet above sea level with amazing mountain views.  Given Prentice has about 567 people, according to the Internet, Keith will be moving to a bit larger area with a much lower elevation.

Keith said while he enjoys the beautiful views of the water and mountains in Colorado, he added, "I can only catch trout so long.  I need to get back to walleye fishing."  He said Lake Superior is one of his favorite spots [in Wisconsin] so he enjoys going up to Ashland to fish.  "I have taken a lot of kids, from my previous school, out to Lake Michigan, and I'm hoping to do something like that to give those kids who haven't had that experience the opportunity."

Beyond the outdoor enthusiast opportunities, the biggest draw to Wisconsin was to be back with family.  "We wanted to get back, to be next to family.  It's tough when you can only see your kids on Thanksgiving or Christmas or an event like that."  The drive is about 21 hours, so with the move to Prentice they will only have half a day's drive for Michele and him to see family.

The icing on the cake is how he feels about the Prentice School District.  Keith said he had an "instant connection" to the board at the Prentice School District, which really sold him on the school.  "I have that connection right now [in Creede], and when I had to tell them that I was moving on, it was hard, very hard."  Keith got a little choked up thinking about his current staff, what they accomplished, and how he will miss them.  "Having that group of people that will stand behind you in those difficult times, like the pandemic, is really important.  I felt that same thing when I was able to talk with the board president in Prentice and other school officials, so it makes me excited about this new adventure."  He said he is looking forward to meeting the entire staff and members of the community.

He says he has some ideas for Prentice, but he wants to hear from other people about their ideas before talking about his own thoughts.  "I don't want to project myself onto them until I know what is valuable and what is important to Prentice."  He feels he can take that information and his ideas and create a blended experience to benefit the school district and create remarkable educational experiences.

With thirty years of educational experience at multiple grade levels at various-sized schools, Keith has had many remarkable experiences as an educator and administrator.  "There were so many great things.  It's hard to pin down one."  Overall, he loves being in the classroom.  As an administrator, he said, "I don't feel like I should be tethered to my desk, so I remind myself to go down into the classrooms to see what they are doing there."  When he can see what is going on in the classrooms, it can help guide him when talking with the school board about his recommendations for the best course of action for the students and school.  He remarked about being in the classroom with a creative design class at Creede.  "One of the high school kids recently got their design accepted by a local business outside the county.  They printed the design on about 1,000 t-shirts, which is awesome they would think to tap into our school district, and this student was doing so well, and so I am going to share that with the board to celebrate and honor what the kids do in the classroom, so it's something I like to do to get back in the classroom and see what is happening."

Keith said it is important to show students, who want to stay in Price County, the opportunities that abound.  "When I went to school, the concept was to get ready for college.  Now, college is not the set be-all formula for everybody, so I like to implement ideas by asking what a kid's interests are and what the kids are wanting to tailor our education to them."

He added, "I've been working with the other superintendents in Colorado and we were trying to do a build-your-own program, because there is a teacher shortage, and we see a need for sustainability to get people to stay in the communities and work on that for not just teaching but also paraprofessionals or to get people the training for electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems so students are able to pursue that."  He said they have apprenticeships at the schools, which are beneficial to apply concepts to real-world work situations.  "I agree we want to keep our kids that are wanting to be there [in Price County] and offer them some options that they can do.  It's not just one-size fits all.  We have to be flexible.  There are a lot of different jobs out there, some that haven't even been created yet, and with today's technology, people are able to work remotely, as well.  There are options we can provide for our students.  I have to see what the needs are and see what things are available and try to do something that will benefit everybody to keep our kids if we can."

Keith and Michele will be in the area sometime in June, and they are looking forward to meeting the residents and getting involved with the community.

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JOB OPPORTUNITY IN PRICE COUNTY:  The Phillips Public Library seeks an enthusiastic, empathetic, and organized Youth Services Librarian.  Learn more.
(This post was last modified: 05-09-2024, 02:52 PM by My Northern Wisconsin.)