For Griffins, training begins with love | Native Information

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RANCHESTER — Sheridan County Faculty District #1 is a spot the place, to paraphrase the previous “Cheers” theme music, “everyone is aware of your identify.”

Tongue River Elementary Faculty has roughly 240 college students and Principal Annie Griffin is aware of each by identify. She is aware of their passions, their pursuits, their struggles.

This deep human connection is acquainted to Annie and her husband Robert, who had been welcomed into the Tongue River neighborhood a decade in the past and by no means seemed again. The truth is, it’s what introduced them there within the first place.

“I really imagine one of many best issues the state of Wyoming has ever created is their training system,” stated Robert, a social research trainer who works at Tongue River Center Faculty. “In a small faculty, (my daughters) Kelsie and Allie are someone. Their lecturers really know them and care about them. They may not expertise the whole lot that is available in a bigger faculty, however they know they’re beloved and appreciated.”

“In Sheridan County Faculty District 1, you’re seen,” Annie stated. “We all know who you might be, what you’ve been by way of and the place you’re going. And we’re right here for you.”

For a decade now, the Griffins have been holding that custom of caring alive of their colleges, and their labor of affection is seen in quite a few methods. You’ll be able to see it within the giant Nationwide Blue Ribbon Faculty signal hanging on the wall of Tongue River Elementary Faculty, and you may see it within the not too long ago created veteran’s memorial on the center faculty campus. Largely, you may see it within the smiling faces of their college students.

“I come to high school every day for these relationships,” Annie stated. “That’s why I adore it. I really like the job as a result of I really like these individuals, and I would like the perfect for them. You need to put all of them above your self, and generally you must grind to get their wants met, but it surely’s price it.”

The Griffins are each Wyoming natives, attending highschool collectively in Glenrock earlier than attending and graduating Black Hills State College collectively. Annie says she needed to be an educator from the third grade, when she began enjoying faculty along with her associates. For Robert, his profession grew from a deep need to assist others, which he displayed first by way of years of army service.

 “No matter I did, I knew I needed to assist individuals,” Robert stated.  “I began teaching first, and it was very rewarding. From there, it didn’t take me lengthy to get into instructing.”

Each Griffins began their careers in Colorado’s Delta County Faculty District. Whereas they had been happy with their work in that district, they selected to go away as their very own daughters reached faculty age, Annie stated.

“Once you get instructed yearly that one other million {dollars} must get lower from the price range, it will get to the purpose the place you must marvel the place these {dollars} are coming from, and the way these cuts are going to influence the scholars,” Annie stated. “We needed to ask what this was going to appear to be for our daughters.”

“It was eye-opening that when our personal youngsters had been sufficiently old to be within the colleges we had been instructing in, we determined the faculties weren’t adequate for them,” Robert stated. “We determined our personal youngsters had been going to get a greater training than Colorado may present.”

Each Griffins knew their dwelling state nicely, and Sheridan County was the primary and solely place they thought-about settling down, Annie stated.

“We rapidly determined Tongue River was the place we wanted to be,” Annie stated. “We knew the sense of neighborhood there would create a significant expertise for our youngsters and for us.”

The Griffin household has bloomed the place they had been planted, and have planted some new seeds of their very own lately. For instance, Robert introduced a ardour for veterans to his job on the center faculty, and that keenness was rapidly adopted by his college students.

Robert stoked that keenness by having his college students ship letters to native veterans.

“The essential premise was to ship as many letters as potential to native veterans,” Robert stated. “After I served and I’d get mail, it was like ‘Any person loves me and the world is correct.’ It was just like the ice cream truck coming by way of city  — I knew it could be particular for the veterans, and hopefully for the scholars as nicely.”

Issues snowballed from there, in the easiest way potential. The letter-writing marketing campaign spurred an annual Veteran’s Day meeting and celebration of native veterans. And that meeting inspired college students to indicate their appreciation for veterans by way of the creation of a memorial exterior the varsity, which was unveiled in 2021.

“I facilitated the imaginative and prescient, however the youngsters purchased into it,” Robert stated. “I modeled what respecting our veterans ought to appear to be, however they had been those who actually took it to coronary heart…The memorial didn’t get constructed due to me. It bought constructed due to my college students and due to the neighborhood we reside in.”

“You look over at that memorial, and that’s one thing that can final long gone our time right here,” Annie stated. “That’s one thing to be happy with.”

Annie has left her personal mark on the varsity district since changing into the elementary faculty principal in 2017. She has championed social and emotional wellness of scholars and created Undertaking G.I.F.T as a strategy to encourage literacy and get lovely new books into the palms of each younger baby within the valley. Her efforts additionally led to the varsity being acknowledged as a Nationwide Blue Ribbon Faculty earlier this faculty 12 months.

U.S. Secretary of Schooling Miguel Cardona acknowledged 325 colleges as Nationwide Blue Ribbon Faculties for 2021. Tongue River Elementary and Powell Center Faculty had been the one two Wyoming colleges to obtain the award for 2021. Tongue River Elementary’s award is predicated on exemplary excessive efficiency as measured by the Wyoming Check of Proficiency and Progress.

“Our college students have at all times been recognized for his or her kindness,” Annie stated. “They’re nice and sort and appreciative, however there’s extra to them than that. I instructed our employees that our youngsters needs to be recognized for his or her kindness and their teachers. Our college students and employees work to teach the entire baby, and this award exhibits we’ve been profitable.”

Whereas the Griffins have completed loads over the past decade, there’s nonetheless a lot work to be performed, they stated. And after they get discouraged or drained, they take inspiration from one another.

“Annie conjures up me as a result of she’s an knowledgeable,” Robert stated. “She is aware of the fitting reply, and if she doesn’t, she is aware of the place to seek out it. She’s realized the science behind training, and she or he is aware of it. She’s relentless and won’t cease offering the very best training to her college students. I’ve stated from the start that I’m not even the very best educator in my very own home.”

Annie takes inspiration from Robert as nicely.

“After I began instructing, I assumed you simply stood up, delivered a lesson and let it soak in,” Annie stated. “It doesn’t work that manner. Robert has taught me that training is all about relationships. These relationships improve my very own pleasure, and modifications the whole lot for these round me too. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Griffins’ daughters, each in seventh grade, have seen firsthand the exhausting work, grit and willpower it takes to be an educator. And a minimum of one in all them has expressed an curiosity in following in her dad and mom’ footsteps sooner or later. Robert’s recommendation for her is straightforward.

“For those who’re going to develop into a trainer, you’d higher perceive how you can love individuals,” Robert stated. “For those who don’t have that in your coronary heart as the rationale you train, you’re not going to get very far. Love is the place all of it begins.”