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BOE interviews Dr. Robert Griffin

Dr. Robert A. Griffin, principal, Goshen (Ala.) High School, Pike County Schools.

Biography

Been in education 19 years. Born and raised in Clay County. Began teaching Agri-science. Graduated from Auburn magna cum laude. Masters and Ed.S in Agriculture. Was Career Technical Director for Troy and Pike County School. Been at Goshen for two years.

Why he wants to live in Demopolis

“I’ve been in education my entire life and I like this area. It mirrors where I’ve lived. I’ve visited here a few times and I really like it.”

Griffin has two school-aged children.

“This seems like the kind of place I’d like to finish them out.”

On developing vision

“It takes a collaboration from all your stakeholders…your students, your business and industry, your parents. You have to redefine your vision every five years…Vision statements and goals need to be realistic, verifiable and they need to be attainable.”

On school improvement plan

“Your (improvement plan) is developed at the school site with administrators, teachers and, of course, parents. You look at your graduation rate: Do you have a problem with reading at age 7?…A superintendent has got to be able to read and interpret test results…Where are we the worst and how can we improve that?”

Student development

“When you’re dealing with at-risk students, your teachers have to know how to identify them. You have an at-risk program at the central office level…if you don’t know how to properly understand your at-risk students, you bring in somebody to help you and there are funds available for that. Guidance counselors need constant professional development.”

On management style

“You’ve got to delegate into the hands of those who have the training to do the job correctly and completely…You want input from your staff. You can allow parents to complete surveys and always have open-ended questions. I would visit with the stakeholders, parents, students, business leaders, industry…everybody.”

On communication

“You’ve got to keep an open door policy…There’s oral and written communication, but the most important part of communication is listening.”

On special needs

“You make sure all the stakeholders know that whatever they determine to be the IEP for that student is the law…Those teachers have to adhere to that IEP all day long.”

Griffin said it was important for those involved in the student’s education, including teachers, assistant principals, the principal and parents, to communicate with one another at all times.

On curriculum change

“You have to look at why is it that we need change? Look at your graduation rate, test results…That’s where you determine that ‘OK, we’ve got a need.’ That will start with me, but it’s something that the principals need to be versed in…If you have opposition to the change, show them the high stakes test results.”

On paying civic rent

“The superintendent needs to be involved in the entities in your town, like the chamber of commerce, economic planning and development…I want to be active, definitely purchase a home here and I’ve always attended church. Another entity would be that anywhere I’m at, I would be representing the City of Demopolis. We’ll live here, pay our taxes here and shop here…”

On grant writing

“I am always writing grants and, believe it or not, I enjoy it.”

Successfully written a grant to implement an Ag Academy in Pike County, outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

On budgeting

“You have got to have a good relationship with the custodian of funds…Budgeting, we’ve got to be on the same page and keep an open line of communication…We need to do line items to make sure we don’t go over budget…We need to go over the budget with the principals so they know what’s available and what it’s for.”

On budget cuts if necessary

“Cuts need to have as little impact on instruction as possible. You have to cut so it’s felt as little in the classroom as possible.”

On discipline

“My philosophy is we need to have a board-approved, stakeholder-developed code of conduct that is uniform among the four schools. You need to have it laid out exactly what the punishments are and make sure it’s consistent…The punishment needs to fit the crime.”