Stories by Blake Herzog
Dr. Christine Griffin has taken over as superintendent at Humboldt Unified School District, continuing her 21-year career in Yavapai County education and two years in HUSD administration under her predecessor John Pothast, who established a personalized approach to student learning she says is beginning to show results.
She said the district is pursuing several strategies she wants to see through.
“We’ve got the personalized learning initiative, we have standards reference grading that we’ve been working on, and we also have a new teacher evaluation that we started last year,” she said. “Those are tall initiatives, and we’ve got momentum going with personalized learning that I think that it’s very important that we stay the course.” School safety will also be a top priority, she added.
Griffin was chosen for the job by the district’s governing board in May. She’s worked in Yavapai County her entire career, with the first 16 years spent in the Verde Valley. She worked in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District as a teacher, special education instructor, instructional coach and intervention specialist as she worked her way up to five years as principal at Oak Creek Elementary School in Cornville before being drawn to apply to HUSD.
“One of the things that attracted me is they were cutting-edge with their 21st century learning practices and had really strong leadership,” she said.
She spent three years as principal of Granville Elementary School in Prescott Valley until she was named executive director of educational services and innovation in 2021. This put her in charge of curriculum and instruction, including the personalized learning approach that has become a district hallmark.
“Teachers tailor their instruction and assessment and even the content based on students’ voice and choice, over the path, pace and place of their learning,” she said. “It could be something as easy as a checklist to show whether a student has mastered a skill. It also could be an old, standard test, too.”
This perspective informs most of the district’s programs, including phonics-based Tier 2 reading intervention for kindergarten through third grade, Exact Path with lessons to drill down to every student’s needs in math and English instruction, and career technical education for high schoolers ready to pursue a trade as soon as they graduate.
New this year is the Early College curriculum, which will put about 80 juniors and seniors on a full-time schedule at the YC campus as they earn an associate degree at the same time as their high school diploma.
Griffin said this is designed for teens who may not think they’re college-bound, rather than those who know they are. “We’re creating a pathway for them that they would not necessarily be able to afford themselves. It’s for that group of kids who are a little bit ‘over’ high school,” she said.
Griffin is looking for ways to keep families engaged in the educational process. With the Tier 2 reading intervention initiative, she said, “We’re providing a night to where community members and families can come interact with the intervention, a hands-on experience, as opposed to just communicating out to them that we’re going through a 60-day adoption process. We’re doing a little bit more.”
Griffin also sits on the board for the Humboldt Education Foundation, which raises money to support several district programs.