By Zach Spadt
Staff Writer 

New Ten Sleep superintendent, principal take dream jobs

 

July 28, 2022



WORLAND — There was only one school district that could pull Annie and Robert Griffin away from their positions as educators in rural Sheridan County.

And when that position came open, there was no debate between the respective Tongue River Elementary principal and Tongue River High School social studies teacher.

Annie Griffin recently began serving as the Washakie County School District 2 superintendent. Robert will take the reins as principal in Ten Sleep in the coming weeks.

The Griffins have family in the Ten Sleep area and have visited for three decades. They never expected the positions to open in Ten Sleep, let alone at the same time.

“Wouldn’t that be a dream?” they asked themselves on numerous occasions.

“Ten Sleep was the only place that could pull us away,” Annie Griffin said. “It’s our dream job.

“(Ten Sleep) was the only place we applied. We weren’t job searching.”

When Annie Griffin met with school district officials to discuss her potential hire for the position, she noted that there is something special about Ten Sleep and she planned to retire there. One of the most important things about education, Annie Griffin said at the time, was her connection to students.

That was apparent as Annie Griffin was on her way to read to summer school students as she spoke to the Northern Wyoming News for this story.

The Griffins hail from Glenrock, but before coming to Wyoming roughly a decade ago, they worked at a school system on Colorado’s Western Slope. When their twin daughters came along, they knew with conviction that they wanted their children to attend the best schools in the nation — Wyoming’s.

Annie Griffin said she and Robert didn’t feel Colorado had a strong enough school system. Their district was looking at $1 million budget cuts before they headed north.

“Wyoming puts its students first,” Annie Griffin said.

Their daughters will enter the 2022-23 school year as eighth graders.

Ten Sleep, like the Griffins’ previous home on the other side of the Bighorns, harbors a culture of family. Annie Griffin described it as “that feeling.”

It’s a place where the Griffins’ children can ride their bikes down the road to Dirty Sally’s for a scoop of ice cream and know a neighbor is looking out for them. Neighbors have offered to help the family move into their new home. The Griffins have found cookies on their doorstep.

Ten Sleep residents have helped their children make new friends the short time they’ve been in town.

“They’re not going to get lost in the crowd,” Annie Griffin said of her children.

Annie Griffin said her priority as superintendent will be to work closely with officials as a new school building is completed, something in which she has already had a significant role.

Aside from that, it’s getting to know the town’s parents and learning the history and issues that have faced students and their families. Annie Griffin says the school system is already “first-rate.”

During his interview with school officials, Robert Griffin said his experience teaching before becoming an administrator was sort of an anomaly.

Robert Griffin said most administrators leave the classroom for the front office after their fifth or sixth year and it’s rare for someone to remain in the classroom for as long as he has — more than 20 years. He explained his heart is in it for the students, otherwise he would have left the classroom years ago.

When they’re not at school, the Griffins enjoy playing golf and boating. They’ve already made time to pull their daughters around Boysen on an innertube.

Robert Griffin is replacing Levi Collins who is leaving the school district to take a job as a superintendent in Montana. Meanwhile, Annie Griffin replaced Jimmy Phelps, who retired.

 
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