By: Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer
Garland Independent School District (GISD) is gearing up for its May 7 school board elections. Three seats are up for re-election: Places 2, 3 and 4. Garland ISD serves residents living in the Garland, Sachem, and Rowlett communities. According to the District’s website, there are 58,000 students presently enrolled across its 71 campuses.
Incumbent, Linda Griffin of Garland is vying for the Place 3 seat. Griffin is running against opponent Jody Luna, also of Garland. But this is just the latest chapter of service Griffin has devoted to the Garland and Dallas communities.
Griffin is no stranger to public office as she has successfully held a Board of Trustee seat since 1998. Within her tenure, she has served as board president, vice president, and assistant secretary and is currently serving as board secretary.
In her 41 years as a Garland resident, Griffin is also known for her various community involvement and associations with faith-based, national and local charitable organizations.
“I was born into a family of community people. I saw everyone in my family care for everyone in the community–fed people, clothed people, housed people in the community. As a result of that, I have a love for people and especially a love for children,” she adds.
The daughter of the late Joe and Helen Reed, her family instilled this love for community and service. It continued with her late husband, and now their son Reuben Lael Griffin, is picking up the mantel. For numerous years Reuben, a gospel music artist, has led the community Youth Choir for the Annual Martin Luther King celebration each January.
Griffin co-founded St. Mark Baptist Institutional Church in Garland along with her late husband, Dr. Roosevelt A. Griffin, where he served as pastor until his death in 2009. St. Mark honored Griffin in March of last year for her 33 years of service.
Although she is not one to seek acclaim, as a trailblazer, her walls and shelves are filled with honors. Leadership Service Award (Texas Association of School Board); Committee Chairman Award (Garland Chamber of Commerce) ; Leadership and Service Award (PTA Texas Caucus of Black School); and the Speak your Name Award (National Association of Business and Professional Women Garland Board of Trustee) are just a few of the honors Griffin has received throughout her tenure as a public servant.
In addition to gaining recognition for her public service, Griffin holds or previously held committee leadership positions and memberships for several boards and organizations throughout the area. They include: Advisory Council Chairperson of Garland Corps of Salvation Army; Chairperson of the Garland Steering Committee; and Life Member of PTA Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members.
Griffin discussed the satisfaction she derives from serving as Chairperson of the Garland Corps of Salvation Army. It is their commitment to helping the community during times of hardship, such as the help they provided after the devastating tornado in December of last year.
“It gives me another opportunity to give back to the community and try to provide and give to people when they have unfortunately fallen on difficult times,” Griffin shared.
She helped to spearhead policies effecting change within the District such as the creation of the Board Operating Procedure Booklet, which was designed to serve as a resource in helping guide administration/staff on how to conduct school business as well as serve as a resource to provide trustees’ overall procedures and processes. Griffin also played an integral role in implementing an Exchange Program that sent students and teachers to Taiwan.
“I am the Trustee that leads at the highest number of continuing Ed hours, so with that I prepare myself to serve by attending seminars, conventions, and conferences”, she stated when asked about her qualifications.
Having committed much of her life to public and community service, Griffin has also held positions within the corporate sector. Her career, often as one of the first African American women in leadership roles included, working in senior management within the Information Technology division of Allianz of America, an insurance company.
“I stay pretty current on technology and that was one of the reasons I got on the Board to give my information technology expertise to the District and I am pleased to look back on all the accomplishments that we have made in technology in the District; not just because of my leadership, but because of my understanding of technology and the complexities of systems and programs,” she shared, pointing out how her professional background has helped serve the District well in the area of technology improvements.
Griffin continues to pursue a life in public office because she wants to continue her motto of service to help implement change that is “Always Benefiting Children.”
“I want to stay on the Board to see the blended classrooms develop where we have desktops, laptops, iPads and then we have software that’s installed on our network in the District. And the greatest thing is to see how those things all blend together to ultimately increase student performance.”
“Every day I walk by faith and it is the direction that I look for and the greatest thing my faith does for me in this elected position is to have no respect of person, but to treat all of our children, all of our community, all of our citizens the same–my faith allows me to love everyone and especially God’s children.”
After receiving a designation as a Master Trustee through the successful completion of the Texas Association of School Board Members Leadership Program, Griffin believes it’s important that she keeps herself educated in order to understand the needs and issues affecting her District.
“I want to see the continuous expansion of Pre-K and early childhood programs.”
Other issues she is campaigning for includes:
- College and career readiness programs
- Successful digital upgrades of classrooms
- Increased high school graduation rates and getting students to the next level of their education
- Better career opportunity and advancement for District employees
- Fiscal responsibility and accountability
“It’s a great time to be a student or a parent of Garland ISD just because of the things we are doing.” she adds.
Griffin is most proud that the Garland ISD team “works together as a community,” and she hopes to continue that work of championing for all children.
For additional campaign information, visit her Facebook page.
Early voting starts on Monday, April 24 with the election scheduled for May 7.