Thank you, Dr. Grissom
Don Martin. Joe McCann. Wiley Doby. Judy Grissom. The Rowan-Salisbury School System has had only four superintendents in the 24 years since city and county schools merged. And as Dr. Judy Grissom officially retires this week, she can leave knowing that she made a difference in the lives of thousands of children.
Grissom had stored up a reservoir of invaluable knowledge by the time she came home to lead the Rowan-Salisbury system in 2006. She grew up in Rowan County, so she knew the community. She had served in administrative positions in other school systems, so she had breadth of experience. And she related well to teachers, parents and students, so she inspired loyalty and enthusiasm.
The schools’ embrace of new technology was the hallmark of Grissom’s administration. Schools started using everything from classroom iPads to an activity bus with wireless Internet access, and teachers came to see technology as a tool instead of a chore.
Grissom’s greatest challenges grew from forces beyond her control. When she accepted the job in 2006, she could not have known that financial and political winds were about to shift. She would face strong headwinds as the economy went south and new state leaders turned a cold eye on public education.
Meanwhile, the poverty rate has been escalating. The percentage of children living in poverty climbed from 14.2 percent in 2000 to 31.7 percent in 2012. Raising achievement levels while incomes are plummeting is a virtual impossibility, and that was probably Grissom’s greatest frustration.
But there was no frustration in evidence at the recent retirement reception where people from all levels of the school system spoke of Grissom’s vision, professionalism and constant push for improvement. She has been a true educator, from beginning to end. Thank you, Dr. Grissom, for leading our schools into a new era.