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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news June 28, 2016

7/3/2013 2:07:00 PM
Cornville's Oak Creek School gets new principal
Christine Griffin
Christine Griffin

Yvonne Gonzalez
Staff Reporter

It took the new principal at the Oak Creek School two weeks to force the wheels of her newly acquired mountain bike up a particularly daunting climb, realizing at the top that it wasn't so bad after all.

"It's so hard and I'm not very good at it, and so I'm having to learn something new, and I get really frustrated with myself because I want to be good at it," Christine Griffin said. "It reminds me of what it's like to be a kid having to learn something new every day. It can be really frustrating, but then you accomplish it, and it's nothing to be afraid of."

Her habit of trying new things influenced the Gilbert native to teach a variety of grade and aptitude levels at four Verde Valley schools.

Twelve years after getting her start teaching third grade at the Oak Creek School, Griffin has earned a special education degree, an elementary education degree, and a Master's in educational leadership with a principal emphasis from NAU. 

"When you have a classroom of kiddos, you have a variety of ability," she said. "You want to be able to differentiate to be able to provide challenging curriculum to the kids that really need to be pushed, and you want to be able to stop and provide interventions and teach it a different way for kids that might not get it the first time."

The transition from elementary to middle to high school can be incredibly difficult on a child. At Oak Creek School, a student's kindergarten teacher speaks at her eighth grade graduation. 

"This campus is probably the best-kept secret of the Verde Valley," she said. "It is extremely special. It's a community school."

Fostering that sense of community is central to Griffin's plan to begin service learning projects for each grade level, like delivering meals to the many Cornville residents who are homebound.

"My short-term goal is really for this school and the kids to really understand that they are part of a community, and that they learn to kind of give back to the community," she said.

Though each classroom is equipped with projectors that allow teachers to use laptops to lead lessons, she wants to further launch the school into 20th century learning. 

Oak Creek is using a grant awarded to small, rural schools to create a Polycom video conferencing room on campus.

Classes can use this to go on virtual field trips and Skype with other classrooms across the country to ask each other questions about where they live.

If a classroom in Virginia wants to know what's inside Oak Creek, Cornville children can venture to find out and deliver the answer.

Griffin said she wants to integrate Cornville's ecosystem with the curriculum to make the school a destination for science, technology, engineering, and math education.

"This school has a really neat location and I think that the whole agriculture, and 4-H, and the whole environmental sciences at Oak Creek - there are so many opportunities here that other schools don't have," she said. 

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: Kelli Rhoda

So excited to have Christine back at COCSD! She has a passion for education and is driven by what is best for children. She is a visionary and will do wonderful things for Oak Creek School. Those students and teachers are very lucky to have her on their team!

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: Back To School

Didn't we already have a principal before Barbara U'Ren tried to strangle the school to death? How about the sports programs that were killed off? The dual roles that some of the teachers were required to take on? Is this school really going to get the support it deserves from the district or just limp along until the next opportunity to take it down comes along? You lost a lot of good parents and students the last time. Well Barbara, what say's you???

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