A New Chief for Memphis Schools

 Sharon Griffin, new Memphis Chief of Schools 
Sharon Griffin, new Memphis Chief of Schools 

We refuse to put an ineffective person or the wrong person in front of our kids. -Sharon Griffin

Sharon Griffin, known nationwide for her success with school turnarounds in Memphis, has just been named chief of schools for the largest public school district in Tennessee. She’s the first person to ever hold the position and while the title is new, the focus on supporting principals, overseeing teacher coaches, and developing leaders is certainly not new. She is a big believer in people and ensuring that the right people with the right skill sets are in the right positions. 

Sometimes you need a person to support teachers without evaluating them.

Griffin’s reputation as a game-changer in the world of school turnarounds took shape during her time as Regional Superintendent of the iZone where results have been impressive. 

As regional superintendent of the iZone, Griffin oversaw expansion of the initiative to 21 schools since 2012. She has hosted education officials from across the nation, including the District of Columbia and Indianapolis, to learn how Shelby County Schools has posted steady gains at its lowest-performing schools. (Chalkbeat TN)

In 2015, Griffin was named Supervisor of the Year. She cites attitude, people, and partnerships as vital ingredients to school turnarounds. She is committed to ensuring that her principals have the support they need and she has no illusions about mistake-free zones. She embraces mistakes as part of the improvement process.

I talk to principals about hiring the right #2, #3 and #4 because you cannot do this work by yourself. And to realize that this is not a mistake-free zone. Sometimes, failure is how we learn and grow. For us to continue the momentum we have, we have to understand that they don’t have to know it all. We have to feel comfortable enough about what we don’t know to ask our colleagues. We all have this mask of “I just got to be perfect.” That’s not realistic. My hair is white! That was a peroxide mistake. Now I kind of like it though!

Griffin is a Memphis native. She attended LeMoyne-Owen College and received her doctorate at the University of Memphis.  

We are all about kids at this blog and there is no doubt that Griffin is too. We applaud her selection as schools chief, congratulate her on the honor, and wish her all the best as she works to help our city, our families, and our children. 

Here’s a clip of Sharon Griffin talking school turnarounds in 2014. 

(All quotes taken from Chalkbeat TN)