By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Tonight the Millington School Board unanimously voted James “Bo” Griffin the next superintendent of Millington Municipal School on a second motion.
The replacement for outgoing director of schools in Millington Dr. David Roper came down to Griffin and current Millington Central High School Principal Dr. Clint Durley.
Both candidates addressed the seven Board members in Millington City Hall to a packed house. After the Board of Roger Christopher, Cody Childress, Mark Coulter, Barbara Halliburton, CJ Haley, Larry Jackson and Chris Denson heard the time-limited speeches of Durley and then Griffin, it came time to vote on who would be the second leader of MMS.
At 7:15, the member discussed the final two candidates and the other three finalists of Chad H. Stevens (former principal of Bolton High School), Mark E. Neal (principal of Melrose High School) and Selina T. Sparkman (principal of Millington Middle School).
After interviews earlier this week, the list was dwindled down to a pair. Now Bolton High School has to look for a replacement for Griffin after he was selected as MMS Superintendent.
Griffin took a moment tonight among his supporters and well-wishers to talk with The Millington Star.
Millington Star: How does it feel to be selected tonight and become the next superintendent of Millington Municipal School?
Griffin: It’s exciting. When I had the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time, it’s that same type of feelings. You’re anxious and scared because you don’t know what’s going on. But the great thing is like I told you when I became the head baseball coach, at the end of the day I get to make the decisions. I don’t have to ask somebody else, ‘Can we do this?’
I just think of the things I’ve been associated with for three years at Raleigh and at Bolton for a year. All the things we’ve done with the red tape. Now I can pull that trigger when I think it is what’s best for our kids. I didn’t get here by myself. I’ve worked with a lot of great people in this room.
The No. 1 thing is this community came out in droves. I think Dr. Durley said, ‘Why can’t we have this every meeting?’ That’s my goal to have this type of atmosphere at every meeting. That’s my job as superintendent. If I do what I’m supposed to do and sell our school system, we’ll have that. I am very excited about that.
Millington Star: From coaching to administration, you have relied on humility and teamwork…
Griffin: We’ve all got a role to play. When I went to Raleigh, the one thing we talked about was when the State Department came in and said, ‘There’s nothing you can do.’ I took that as a challenge. You say I can’t do something, I’m about to show you that you’re wrong. I told them I’ll be the lighthouse they’ll throw the rocks at. My job as superintendent is to make sure you have what you need to take care of our kids. Teachers focus on taking care of our kids. Our focus at the central office is taking care of the administration and giving them the support they need and the tools to be successful. There is no reason this can’t be one of the top 10 school districts in America. I truly believe that.
Millington Star: Some people say Millington is a challenge. Some think Millington is last when it comes to school systems of the municipalities. Are you ready for that challenge?
Griffin: We’ve got to have those real courageous conversations. We have to look at the data. This is the truth and I told them, ‘All the problems with Millington Municipal Schools is right here in this room tonight.’ That’s the truth. The great new is all the answers are in here too. We’ve got to work together. Everybody has a job to do. If we stay in our lane and put the kids first, we’ll have a chance to turn this thing around. But we’ve got to look at the data and say, ‘Those red numbers are not a negative. They’re a chance to get better.’
I know that if you show up on time, be respectful and work hard you have a chance to be successful. I’ve seen it time and time again.
Millington Star: You never really left Millington always having a part in the community. Does it feel good to be back home?
The reason why I am here is that little red-head down there. Eli goes to E.A. Harrold. And Mandy Compton when I was a rookie coach gave me an opportunity to do a reading program. She told me, ‘You’re going to get more out of this than you every thought.’ She was so right. I’ve had some great mentors in my life, Mandy Compton, Tanya Mabry, Nancy Norwood, David Stephens. The list goes on and on. But the one thing that played a factor, the No. 1 thing in leadership was you don’t micromanage. Like Coach (Tommy) Harrison told me when I was a 25 year-old rookie coach, ‘I hired you to coach your position and your kids up. And have faith in your other teammates.’ Your teammates are the other coaches. That the only thing I’m going to do. If I hire you to do a job, I expect you to do that job. At the end of the day I have to evaluate you. If you’re not doing your job to better these kids, we’ve got to change something. It’s just the way the world works. I think if I do my job as superintendent and get the right people on the bus in the right seats, we have a great chance to be successful.