After 35 years in education, Ed Grisham is saying goodbye.
The McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools announced last week that he was retiring at the end of the school year, and as local education officials and employees heard the news, they expressed regret at losing such a well-liked leader.
Thomson Elementary Principal Donald Davis said that Dr. Grisham has helped the McDuffie County school system reach new heights with leadership and vision.
"I think he's contributed greatly to the school district during the time he's been here," he said. "I feel that he's had a very positive impact on the schools and the general community here in McDuffie County. He will be missed."
Dr. Grisham came to McDuffie County in 1991 after spending several years in Mississippi as a high school math teacher and principal.
As a former teacher himself, Dr. Grisham made a name for himself locally with his hands-on approach.
"I think it's a big loss for the system," said Thomson Elementary teacher Carol Farr. "He's supportive of teachers. When they were passing the tax bill, he came to the school and explained everything to everybody there so teachers knew up front, and that was really good for me."
The school board has already announced that the state of Georgia will be assisting them in finding a replacement for Dr. Grisham, a task that former Dearing Elementary principal Darrell Wells said will be difficult, considering how experienced and revered Dr. Grisham is considered.
"It has been a blessing for McDuffie County to have him here. He has brought a number of innovations here and seen things and carried things through that were important for our system, like new school buildings and the after-school program," he said. "He's been a real worker with the community to make things more cohesive with community groups and that sort of thing. I appreciate the work he's done to make the McDuffie County system better."
Those thoughts were echoed by school board Chairman Tommy Phelps, who said that while an effort to find the next McDuffie superintendent is already underway, finding someone with Dr. Grisham's credentials and experience will be a challenge.
"It's always a concern when you lose someone with the type of tenure and experience that he has, especially in the environment that public education is having to operate in right now," he said. "I do think we will get a really good pool of applicants, and it's our hope that we get some that have a fair amount of experience."
Mr. Phelps went on to add that Dr. Grisham had many outstanding qualities not only as a superintendent, but as a man of the community as well.
"I think he generally cares about people. He's a very devoted Christian, and that comes through in his daily life in the way he handles situations and individuals every day."