201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


Crail leaves legacy of skill, compassion

A selfie taken by Crail in 2014. (From left to right) Jake Crail, Maggie Crail, Sofia Crail, and Jacob Crail. Her daughter Sofia is currently a junior at FUHS and Jacob graduated in 2023. (Maggie Crail)

When senior Sam Neal showed up for the first day of school she was excited for her fourth year of photography. But when she arrived to second period, Sam was surprised and sad to learn that photo teacher Maggie Crail had accepted a new position as assistant principal at Sonora High School. 

Crail did not intend to abandon her photo kids. She learned about her new job only 10 days before school started. “I left what I consider my home and got homesick,” said Crail, who worked at Fullerton for 23 years. “Everyone from the staff to the kids were always so kind and generous with their time and their attention to what I had to say.”

The feeling is mutual. Her students say that Crail was so kind and generous with her time. She listened to students and encouraged them to be the best artists and best people possible.

Sam says Crail helped her express her artistic voice even out of the classroom. It’s one thing to be a good teacher but another to inspire students to apply their skills in their daily lives. 

“Even in visual art, photography has helped me see the world differently,” Sam said. “You just have to look at everything with a different lens.”

Senior Sam Neal’s photo of two children at the beach was not for a school assignment. Sam said that photo teacher Maggie Crail inspired her to tell stories through photography even when she’s not earning a grade. (Sam Neal)

Sam takes Crail’s lessons to heart, saying that photography helps her tell stories. Whenever she’s out she tries to take pictures of strangers, hoping to translate their story through the art of photography.

Sam says she hears Crail’s voice in her head whenever she takes pictures, which helps her continue her learning outside of the classroom. For example, Sam went to the beach one time and saw two children playing.

“I took this photo of two children at the beach. I thought that was beautiful. This childhood aspect,” Sam said. “I thought it was cool because because they’re running in different directions. I thought how that can, like, symbolize life.”

Junior Ellie Waisanen said Crail encouraged her artistic voice. “She always got on me for being too critical of my art,” Ellie said. “She encouraged me to trust my intuition and just keep pushing forwards.”

Ellie was able to grow as an artist because of Crail, even having her work be presented at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center. “She gave me confidence in myself. I even did my own portfolio, and it’s still work that I’m really proud of.”

Junior Sofia Crail, Crail’s daughter and FUHS student, said how nice it was to have her mother as her teacher because she was able to just go to her mother during the school day if she had any problems she needed help with.

Emily Borges; Class of 2023. When asked about this portrait Ellie Waisanen says, “The butterfly portrait was my first real piece I created. I’m really grateful for all the love it got, but also happy that I was able to grow and create pieces with more fluidity and softness.” (Ellie Waisanen)

“It’s hard to separate my mom from being like a mom and then my teacher, you know, but I thought that it was never an issue,” Sofia said.

It was convenient to have her mother as Sofia’s teacher but there were some moments when she realized her mother was her teacher. 

“One time she called me by a nickname she only uses at home,” Sofia said. “She screamed it in front of the entire class. And that was really scary for me, that was really embarrassing.”

Even though Crail is no longer teaching at Fullerton, Sofia takes comfort in knowing she is still her mother.

“I was sad that she wasn’t gonna be my teacher again, but at the end of the day I still got to go home and see her.”

Students aren’t the only ones affected by Crail’s departure. Principal Laura Rubio said that Crail was instrumental in promoting the art programs on campus.

“She was so good at deciphering the curriculum, standards, and strategies that she became the instructional leader of this campus,” Rubio said.

In addition to being an AP Photo teacher, Crail was also the Visual and Performing Arts Teacher on Special Assignment, meaning she taught for half of the day on campus and the other half was working with teachers throughout the district.

“Mrs. Crail thinks on this larger scale and we were able to do so many things district-wide with so many different programs because of her leadership,” Rubio said.

Rubio said Crail was responsible for implementing district-wide showcases for the visual and performing arts programs. She started with the Marching Band showcase then added drumline and others. Now there are showcases for all of the arts across the district. She was an advocate for all the arts, not only for photography. 

Photos taken for Ellie Waisanen’s sustained investigation. (Left) Vida Seagraves; class of 2024. (Right) Angelina Neal; class of 2023. “When I was creating my sustained investigation, [Crail] was really supportive of my ideas and there was about like six months in which I was still developing my ideas. I was doing portraits of young women. I knew I was doing that, but I didn’t know how that was gonna turn out. And she really stood by and helped me articulate that.” (Ellie Wasianen)
Fellow photography teacher and long-time friend Gabby Kudron is adjusting to not having Crail teaching next door.

 “Yeah. It’s like you get to hang out and have coffee with your best friend every day.”

They worked together so well because they balanced each other’s differences. She even expected Crail to get the assistant principal job before Crail herself even knew. Kudron said that Crail was important to the development of the photography program to where it is now. In fact, Crail is the reason for Gallery 201 being a reality.

“She was a big political drive to get all of that stuff done,” Kudron said. “We have the program we have because of her influence.”

Crail actively pushed for the expansion and recognition of the photography program. According to Kudron, she and Crail used to drive all the way to Los Angeles to get their photo developer. However, one time they arrived and the workers claimed that the developer wasn’t ready. Kudron was about to accept their excuses and just call it a fun day with her friend; however, Crail took a different approach.

Kudron said that Crail insisted that they were told it was ready and that they had to drive all the way from Fullerton to LA. Facing the Crail Stare, the workers quickly gave them the developer and they left with no further issues.

It was after this that Crail pushed to have the school supply developer chemicals instead of the teachers themselves. Kudron even coined the phrase “Butterfly with Talons” when referring to Crail’s loving tenacity. Crail is especially known for being a fierce advocate for students. She cares about them as artists and as people. Crail says she dearly misses teaching at Fullerton Union High School but feels blessed to be an assistant principal.

Crail says that being a part of the Tribe family was a blessing.

“I always take the gifts that they gave me in terms of their time and their energy and their friendship,” Crail said. “I think it’s made me a better person and a better leader. Even though I love Sonora as well, Fullerton will always have a special place in my heart. And I’m grateful for those experiences.”

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