It's the end of an era for Ed Grisham.
The McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools announced that he will retire at the end of the school year after 13 years on the job, leaving behind a legacy of improving test scores, better school facilities and more students ready to move on to college.
McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham (from right) works with third grader Jamal Ivey and first grader Hannah Wolfe.
Jason B. Smith
While the decision to retire wasn't easy for the long-time educator, he was pleased that the transition will come at an appropriate time.
"I just concluded it was time. I'll have 35 years in education, and this happened to be a year where all of our school board members were returning without an election, and I felt like that too would be the best time to search out a new person and to have the whole board to get their new person started," he said.
Dr. Grisham also cited caring for his mother in Mississippi as another reason for his retirement.
"She's getting to the age where I might have to drop things and go attend to her, and my wife is obligated at Dearing Elementary as principal for at least two more years, so it made sense for me to be the one that could be flexible if I had to," he said.
Dr. Grisham is heavily involved in the community.
Apart from being a member of the Thomson Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, he's also served on the School Superintendent Board of Directors since 1996, while he served as the RESA Board of Control President from 1996 to 1999. He was a semifinalist for the State Superintendent of the Year Award this year.
Dr. Grisham is also a member of First Baptist Church, and he served as Chairman of the Building Committee that oversaw the church's recent expansion project.
The native Mississippian said that his departure definitely will be bittersweet.
"I think the daily association with really fine people, that's probably what I'll miss the most. Almost everyone here at the board office now has been employed since I've been here for the past 13 years, including just about all the principals and assistant principals, and I'll really miss working with those people. We have some great school and central office leaders," he said.
While concentrating on his family may be his highest priority during retirement, Dr. Grisham didn't rule out returning to the workforce in a limited capacity sometime in the near future.
"I'm a former high school math teacher, and I'm kind of considering some part-time teaching," he said.
"I'm also considering some consultant work that I would do through some state agencies or possibly the state department. At the present time I'm going to keep my options open and not commit to anything."
Of the many improvements made to the school system since 1991, Dr. Grisham mentioned tremendous upgrades in both technology and facilities as some of the things he's specifically proud of.
He also mentioned rising test scores, especially in the area of reading, as another positive sign that is helping to make McDuffie County one of the most well-respected school systems in the state.
"We think we have one of the best overall reading programs that you'll find anywhere," he said.
While Dr. Grisham said he regretted retiring during the current state funding shortfall, he did say he was glad that the system was able to pay off all of its debt several years ago, enabling it to endure the decreased funding without any major repercussions.
The McDuffie County Board of Education is expected to announce Dr. Grisham's replacement in the upcoming months and has already enlisted the State Board of Education to help with the search process.