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Published: Wednesday, 6/9/2010

Monclova Primary's leader wrapping up career

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Vicky Griggs laughs as Jordan Pack, 9, gives retirement advice: ‘Since you won't be working as much be smart with your money.'  Teacher Susan Frank holds the microphone.  Vicky Griggs laughs as Jordan Pack, 9, gives retirement advice: ‘Since you won't be working as much be smart with your money.' Teacher Susan Frank holds the microphone.
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At a June 1 assembly at Monclova Primary School, retiring principal Vicky Griggs received a bucket inscribed with the words "Mrs. Griggs, you are a bucket filler" and filled with notes from some of the students.

This mirrored the principal's bucket-filler program, which prompted students in the third-grade class to fill each other's invisible "buckets" by exchanging positive comments.

It was one of many new programs Mrs. Griggs, 59, who is retiring this year, implemented during her 14 years at Monclova that parents agreed brought the community closer together.

Monclova Primary's enrollment increased dramatically during Mrs. Griggs' time as principal.

She said when she started in 1996, there were close to 300 students at Monclova Primary, compared to almost 700 students now.

She insisted that she personally played no role in the increase and gave credit to the school's teachers and staff members.

Mrs. Griggs said she most liked the family atmosphere of the school, even as it grew larger in size and enrollment, and she tried to get to know her students personally.

She established a program that chose a group of students every month to have lunch with her, which gave her an opportunity to get one-on-one time with them.

Leslie Florea, who worked closely with Mrs. Griggs as president of the Monclova Area Parents, said her daughter Hannah, 9, a rising fourth grader at Monclova Primary, appreciated having lunch with her principal.

"My daughter asked, 'Will this new principal want to have lunch with us?'•" Mrs. Florea said. "My kids feel like they know her and that they matter to her."

Mrs. Griggs said she had no specific plans for her retirement except for spending more time with her husband, Russ, and other family and friends.

Mr. Griggs, former superintendent of the Evergreen and Pike-Delta-York districts in Fulton County, is superintendent of Fayette Local Schools in the county's northwest corner.

From 1973 to 1988, Mrs. Griggs worked at Elmwood Local Schools in Bloomdale, Ohio, teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade and working as a media specialist.

She also served as a principal while at Elmwood for kindergarten through eighth grade.

After that, she worked as a curriculum consultant for schools in Lucas County, before starting as principal at Monclova Primary in 1996.

She and her husband live outside of Swanton.

Mrs. Griggs said she thought it was time to "turn over the reins" to someone else and she wanted to leave on a happy note.

John Granger, superintendent of the Anthony Wayne School District, has worked with Mrs. Griggs for four years, and said she had a lot to deal with during her time as principal, including the growth of the school and several construction projects.

The board has advertised to fill the position and hopes to replace Mrs. Griggs by Aug. 19, the day the new school year begins, he said.

Mrs. Griggs' salary was $88,773 this school year.

Mrs. Griggs said she advises the next principal to continue fostering an atmosphere of community by getting to know students and staff and by involving parents as much as possible.

"Be visible as a principal," she said. "You're only going to have them for a short while."

She said the most rewarding thing over the 14 years was getting to go to school and see the students every day, and she has no regrets about her time as principal.

"You make the decisions that are best for the kids," she said. "If you keep that in your mind, no decisions are bad."

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

aswaby@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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