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Demopolis’ Griffin looks back at first semester

Students may not return to class until Thursday, but the new semester started for faculty and administrative staff members Tuesday. That marks the official beginning of the second semester behind the desk for Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin.

“The first semester, I feel we were able to develop quality relationships with key individuals in order to maintain the quality of the school system,” Griffin said of his first few months in Demopolis. “I want to keep building on what is already an excellent school system.”

As he began 2011, Griffin was pleased with what he and other DCS staff and board members were able to accomplish in 2010.

One of the key accomplishments during Griffin’s first semester, according to the new superintendent, was the implementation of formative assessments at all grade levels. The assessments test students in math and reading at six and nine week intervals.

“When teachers get this assessment data back, they are able to look at the strengths and weaknesses of students on an individual basis,” Griffin said of a system that has better allowed DCS instructors to keep their students on pace and determine in what areas remediation may be required. “I know it was a new challenge for (teachers). I appreciate them taking that on. It has been warmly received. That has definitely been one success so far.”

Griffin and other staff members also utilized the first semester to put together grant applications in an effort to procure additional funding. A number of those applications focused on securing funds for the new performing arts center, which will be open during the new semester.

“We are revising our current board policy,” Griffin said of another focus of his first year on the job. “The goal is to adopt that at the March meeting.”

In addition to the revised board policy, Griffin has assembled a team of teachers and community leaders to put forth a strategic plan for the school system.

“The system has not had a strategic plan for quite some time,” Griffin said. “We’ll have our five-year strategic plan in place in March.”

Griffin said putting a strategic plan in place was near the top of his to-do list when taking over the superintendent office. However, the system’s success at implementing such a plan will also go a long way toward helping DCS in its district accreditation process, which begins in April.

The community’s opportunity to be involved in the strategic planning process will take place Thursday, Jan. 20 at the Demopolis Civic Center at 6 p.m. when the city school system holds a community forum.

“I really need the community to show up at the Civic Center on the 20th from 6 until 8:30,” Griffin said.

The DCS superintendent indicated the community has done an exceptional job of supporting the school system, a fact that has made the transition for his family an easy one.

“My family and I, we can’t thank the community enough for embracing us the way they have. I’ve never received so many cakes, cookies and cards,” Griffin said. “I’ve had a lot of help. There was a team when I got here. This entire community holds the school system close to its heart. I can’t thank everyone enough.”