Linda Grisham said God spoke to her recently; it's the only way she would leave the education field.
After two years at the helm of Dearing Elementary School, Dr. Grisham will lay aside her early mornings and late nights. McDuffie County's other Dr. Grisham will retire at the end of the school year.
Dearing Elementary Principal Linda Grisham talks to fifth grader Jesse Haynes.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
"I had planned to stay here forever," she said. "I thought I'd be a dedicated educator in this field until I went to the nursing home or the funeral home."
After her study of the Rick Warren book The Purpose Driven Life at Thomson First Baptist Church, she began to examine the way she spent her time, most of which was at work.
"It just started really tugging my heart, about priorities and time and what's really valuable." she said, adding that she plans to spend more time with her ill father as well as her grandchild.
Dr. Grisham's husband, Ed, served as Superintendent of Schools in McDuffie County for 13 years. He retired last June, a year after his wife took over as principal of DES.
"He has to make an appointment, almost, to see me, and it shouldn't be that way," Dr. Grisham said.
The announcement came as a surprise to friends and faculty members at the school. For an administration and a staff that has seen little turnover in the past, next year will bring only the fourth principal in the school's history and the third in four years.
"It was tough talking to the (faculty and staff) on Friday afternoon," Dr. Grisham said. "The fact that the Lord wants me to step aside means that He's got his hand on someone else."
Dearing Elementary's first principal was Grover Garrison who served in that capacity for 18 years. He was followed by Darrell Wells who was a fixture at the school for 26 years.
Dr. Grisham was assistant principal at DES for six years before taking over after Mr. Wells' retirement. Before that, she taught at Norris Elementary for six years. She has been in education in both Georgia and Mississippi for a total of 34 years.
"Mrs. Grisham is a tireless educator. She has the children's best interest always in her heart," said Mr. Wells, who now serves as the elementary principal at Augusta Christian.
"She's also a teacher-administrator because she's been a teacher for so many years," he said. "She is a person of tremendous energy, and it is always directed toward doing as much good as she can do. I pray that she will have a purposeful retirement that will put her energy to good use."
Since both Drs. Grisham still have family and friends in their home state of Mississippi, they plan to visit much more often. But leaving McDuffie County to move there is not an option, yet.
Superintendent of Schools Mark Petersen said her retirement will leave a huge hole at DES, but he is grateful for her years of service to the children of McDuffie County.
"Certainly we're disappointed to see her go to the house," Dr. Petersen said. "She has served our community well, and we wish her the best of luck. We'll have some big shoes to fill over at Dearing Elementary."
School officials have begun the process of advertising the opening and are receiving applications. A committee that includes members of the Dearing Elementary School Council and Dr. Margie Waters, the assistant superintendent for human resources, will screen those applications and determine the next course of action.