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Katy ISD Prinicpal Spotlight: Dr. Ethan Crowell

Native Houstonian and former missionary kid brings lessons learned across the world to students at Beckendorff Junior High.

By Meagan Clanahan | KATY MAGAZINE, September 2017 Photography by Anetrius Wallace

Dr. Ethan Crowell grew up with an unconventional background, spending the majority of his childhood as a “missionary kid” in Lima, Peru. Those experiences helped set the stage for becoming an educator and opening children’s minds to exploration and adventure. As principal at Beckendorff Junior High, his new mission is to expand those same lessons to his students and staff.

The Early Years

From the age of 6 until he was 17 years old, Dr. Crowell lived abroad with his Southern Baptist missionary parents, who helped start Bear Creek Baptist Church in Katy. A Houstonian by birth, Dr. Crowell recalls fond memories of his time in Peru, specifically recounting a once in a lifetime experience at the tender age of 9. “I was just a kid with some other missionary kids. We were able to hike the Inca trail, which goes upwards of 15,000 feet,” he recalls. “Besides being breathless because of the height, it was a truly breathtaking experience. It’s a bucket list item for sure and one I will remember as we waited to go back down the mountain.” And proverbially, Dr. Crowell has continued to climb mountains in his path as an educator.

The Call to Something Higher

Dr. Crowell met his wife of 17 years, Julie, at a social dance group at the University of North Texas. What became just an opportunity to be swing and square dance partners evolved into something much more as he was finishing his degree in communication studies. Dr. Crowell later enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard and was deployed to the Middle East. Upon his return in 2003, he came home with the ideal of serving the greater good and searched to make a positive contribution to society. “Working with young people was just for me,” he says. “It fulfilled my need to give and I also felt that I had something great to give as well.”

“I want to remove barriers so that teachers can

be successful and happy. And our

students can do the same.”

- Dr. Ethan Crowell

The Path Forward

After time teaching students of Pearland and Fort Bend ISD, Dr. Crowell got the call up to Morton Ranch High School as assistant principal, and then was subsequently tapped in 2016 to the principal role at Beckendorff. Since coming on board, his first challenge to himself was to take time to fully understand who made up the school and what made them click.

“It was evident from the onset that Dr. Crowell was going to be an asset for BDJH,” says Kara Jefferies an administrative assistant at Beckendorff. “He loves being in the classrooms and hallways and has made such an effort to get to know his staff and students. His actions and approachability have been an inspiration to others here at school.”

His first semester he met one on one with every single faculty and staff member so he could fully integrate into the culture of the Bear campus and to associate with their short- and long-term goals. In his daily life as principal, he works to live out his core values: to learn more every day, help someone every day, and take something existing and make it better or to make something new if it’s not working. Primarily, Dr. Crowell says, “I want to remove barriers so that teachers can be successful and happy. And our students can do the same.” A huge part of his success in his first year has come from his Community Building Circles which typically occur during the advisory period of the students’ day. Dr. Crowell will go around and pass questions around such as, “What do you most value in a teacher?” or “What advice would you give a sixth-grader?” Most surprising is how receptive and honest the kids are in their answers. “They still have this natural curiosity about the world and they still look up to adults,” Dr. Crowell says. “I love this age because they still have so much to share.”

Between his communication with staff and faculty and the circle time, Dr. Crowell is rarely found in his office. He makes it a point to be on the floor regularly and be able to throw fist bumps and high fives on the regular to his students. And throughout his day, he thrives in his ultimate quest to “lead people to an answer, don’t give them an answer. It’s a valuable skill set that will set these children ahead for their educational days to come.”



  • Earned his bachelor’s degree from UNT, Masters from University of Texas – Arlington, and Doctorate from University of Houston

  • Is a certified Academic Life Coach

  • Loves to ride motorcycles

  • Is the main cook in the household, along with his 4-year-old daughter Lucy

  • Wife Julie is the notorious “fix-it” person around the house

  • Loves to eat the fried catfish from Texas Tradition in Katy

MEAGAN CLANAHAN is a Katy wife and mom to twin 6 year olds. She is incredibly thankful for the leadership, wisdom, and love that Katy educators pour into their students.​

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