82-year-old teacher has no plans to slow down
LYNDEN — Among his many skills and experiences, Harlan Kredit is a science guy first.
In fact, the long-time Lynden Christian biology and earth science instructor remembers where he decided to pursue the occupation he has now done most of his life.
At 12 years old, Kredit visited Church Mountain — a Cascade Range summit just off Mount Baker Highway — and found himself in a grassy meadow just below the peak. There, standing further beyond him, was a black bear.
“I saw that bear, in that setting, and that just seemed like magic to me,” Kredit said. “I kind of decided, at that point in time, literally, I wanted to be a science teacher.”
That expedition was where his infatuation with hiking and exploring the mountains began. Kredit has since brought decades-worth of his students to Church Mountain in hopes of providing them the same opportunity he had to fall in love with the outdoors.
For a time, Kredit was away from the beloved summit that sparked his scientific interest. He moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend Calvin College — now Calvin University — and graduated in 1961.
From there, he attended the College of William & Mary in Virginia where he received a Master’s in teaching science. Kredit taught high school science in Hudsonville, Michigan, for 11 years before returning to Lynden in 1974.
“One of the big reasons I came back is I missed the mountains and ocean,” he said. “My family was here, that was important, but the mountains and ocean are part of my science curriculum.”
A soccer player in college, Kredit has had high athletic interest for as long as he can remember. He also coached soccer and track & field while he was in Michigan.
When he started teaching at Lynden Christian, he began coaching the school’s track & field roster almost immediately. He was asked to be LC’s athletic director not long after, then held the position for 30 years.
Kredit has now also been a member of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board for 15 years. He represents District 1, which houses 55 high schools from North Seattle to the Canadian border.
“I’ve enjoyed the challenges, I love to watch kids compete,” Kredit said. “That’s very important, I think, in their development that they have some kind of activity.”
He may not be in the classroom full-time anymore, but Kredit still substitute teaches from time to time, helps in fourth-grade science classes and runs the school’s track meets.
Kredit said the highlight of his time as LC’s athletic director wasn’t the wins and losses, but in building connections with the athletes and assisting their development.
“It’s beyond athletics,” he said. “My main focus has never been on the athletic field. My main focus has been in my classroom. The athletics complement that. I put those together. It’s an outgrowth of that.”
People often ask Kredit if kids are different now than when he began his job at LC 50 years ago. There are big differences in the tools they have access to, technology-wise, which can change some tendencies, he said.
At their core, though, they’re the exact same.
“Everybody wants to be loved, everyone wants to be respected, everyone wants to be treated well,” Kredit said. “That part has never changed. That’s human nature.”
His heavy involvement in the Lynden community and beyond is just the tip of the iceberg that is Harlan Kredit.
He just completed his 49th summer as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. About 25 different groups of his former students came to visit him there this past year, he said. Kredit enjoys the various scientific projects that are consistently in progress at the park.
When he isn’t at WIAA Executive Board meetings, coaching track & field or eating peanut-buster parfaits with students who just want to chat, Kredit has numerous hobbies to keep himself busy.
He has kept his own beehives for nearly 50 years. Kredit got started in beekeeping by inspecting beehives for the department of agriculture when he lived in Michigan. He works on vintage cars, possessing three that range in manufacture date from the 1930s to 1960s.
For nearly 35 years, Kredit has restored antique player pianos. There is a whole shelf in the living room of his home holding old cameras he’s collected over decades of enjoying photography.
As he approaches 82 years old in just a few weeks, Kredit has no plans to slow down.
“It’s exciting for me to get up in the morning and think ‘so, what’s going to happen today?’” Kredit explained. “I kind of like to live on the edge a little bit, not knowing for sure what’s going to happen. I don’t like when everything’s so scripted.”
He is thankful for his health and sees no reason to stop when he can continue the things he loves. Kredit’s glass, as he put it, is always half full.