How did being raised in the church shape your childhood?
KG: My upbringing in the Southern Baptist church instilled a strong sense of community, compassion, and moral values. These principles guide my interactions with both students and colleagues. I believe in treating everyone with respect and kindness, and my faith reminds me of the importance of empathy and understanding, regardless of our differences.
You were a stay-at-home mom, but later transitioned to the education workforce. In doing so, was it a spiritual calling to connect with kids?
KG: My role as a mother was incredibly fulfilling. I also felt a calling to contribute to my community differently. My faith has always emphasized the importance of compassion, empathy, and making a positive impact on others. My time as a stay-at-home mom gave me a unique perspective on nurturing and supporting young minds. It helped me understand the challenges families and children face personally. This understanding, coupled with my desire to create a positive environment for students to learn and grow, motivated me to pursue a career in education.
How do you share your faith with students without forcing your beliefs upon them?
KG: Sharing my faith with students is something I approach with great care and consideration. I understand that our school community has students from various religious and cultural backgrounds, and I believe in fostering an inclusive and respectful environment for everyone. Rather than imposing my beliefs on students, I aim to lead by example through my actions and interactions. I strive to demonstrate values of compassion, empathy, and respect rooted in my faith. I emphasize that everyone has the right to their beliefs and that diversity matters. I’m always here to listen to their perspectives and provide guidance without trying to change their personal beliefs.
Your youngest son is autistic. As an educator, how did you know Andruw was facing some challenges?
KG: As an educator and mom, I recognized Andruw’s speech delay and sought medical advice. He was diagnosed with autism by a neurologist, and I became his advocate, embracing the role of his first teacher and working to ensure he led a fulfilling life filled with love and support.
You’ve spoken on panels regarding autism. What advice would you give other parents who might be struggling to adjust?
KG: I’d advise parents to embrace their child’s uniqueness, seek support from experts and communities, and remember that progress happens at their child’s pace. Connecting with other parents facing similar challenges can provide valuable insights and reassurance. Self-care is crucial. and allowing parents to effectively support their children while maintaining their well-being is healthy and can be successful.
In 2018, you lost your oldest son, Artis, to suicide. How did your faith in God help you through the stages of grief?
KG: Losing my son to suicide was an incredibly painful experience. My faith in God became an anchor during the stages of grief. Prayer and leaning on my beliefs provided comfort, reminding me that I was not alone. My strength came from believing there was a purpose through the pain and loss.
In what ways can the community support all of God’s children in the school systems?
KG: The community can support all children in the school system by fostering an environment of inclusion and understanding. Encouraging empathy and teaching respect for diversity can help students embrace each other’s differences. Providing resources for students with special needs, like autism, ensures they receive the necessary support. Organizing awareness campaigns and workshops on topics like mental health and bullying prevention can promote a culture of care and compassion. Ultimately, creating a safe and nurturing space for all students helps them thrive and succeed.
Do you believe the power of prayer impacts change in your life?
KG: Yes, I firmly believe that the power of prayer can bring about significant change in my life. Prayer provides me with a sense of comfort, hope, and reassurance, especially during challenging times. It helps me navigate difficult decisions and moments of uncertainty. Prayer helps me stay grounded, focused, and aligned with my faith’s principles. It’s a source of strength that empowers me to face life’s challenges with resilience and make positive choices that reflect my beliefs.
Kimberly Griffin lives in Pike Road and is the Library Media Specialist at Carver High School. She had an older son Artis and a younger son Andruw.