Spencer Elementary School has new captain at the helm this year
by Sparta Live | July 27, 2018 7:55 am
By Hansel Moore
Donna Nell Grissom has dedicated her career for 24 years to developing young minds.
For a majority of those years, she was the Gateway teacher as Spencer Elementary kindergartners began their educational path through the Van Buren County school system.
This year brings a whole new set of adventures for Grissom. She will be leading the team of educators and support persons through the upcoming school year as the new principal.
“Now I get to watch all of the students develop and grow, where before I was just in my kindergarten world,” said Grissom.
As a 1974 graduate of Van Buren County High School, she is excited to continue to share her abilities with the community. Throughout her teaching career, she continued her educational advancement by achieving her doctorate degree (Ed.D) from Tennessee State University. Beyond the classroom, her experience with children was also gained while raising eight children of her own and continues now as the grandmother of 19.
“Over the years, I have seen some changes,” said Grissom. “We have to adapt as to how we teach. Currently, a 4-year-old can use a cell phone and get on the internet with ease. This is where we are at in today’s world. We have to teach with technology.”
She continued to explain that Van Buren County is very current on the latest technology.
“In the elementary school, we have Chromebooks, Ipads, and a number of updated computers,” said Grissom. “Students need to gain knowledge to make it in the world. Things are always changing, and I would like for the students to know that they need to keep up with changes. We also have to make sure old ways are taught so they are not forgotten, like gardening, crafts, and things that people did years ago. We need to make sure that people are exposed to those things as well.”
Grissom shared there are going to be a number of new members to the education team this year. There will be three new teachers: Amber Hensley, first grade; Chelsie Martin, second grade; and Jacquline Bumbalough, fourth grade.
Another change that is on the horizon is the position of assistant principal at the elementary school, which will be filled by the former Van Buren High School counselor, Amanda Binkley. She had no hesitation to share why Grissom will be a good leader.
“She is coming straight from the classroom and will be able to relate to the teachers well and will put them in a position that will make them feel open to talk with her,” said Binkley. “She is very even tempered – easy to approach.”
From Jamestown, Binkley has lived in Van Buren County for 22 years and has 19 years of educational experience. Originally, she started in the classroom as a biology and chemistry teacher. She then transitioned to school counselor and now looks forward to her new role as assistant principal. Her educational credentials include an Ed.S in school Counseling, a master’s degree in instructional leadership, and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education.
“Most of my career I have worked with older students, so the biggest challenge for me will be adjusting for the age group of students,” said Binkley. “ I have a lot of new names and faces to learn this year.”
When asked about her goals for this year, Binkley said, “I want to share with the students the importance and value of education and that it is something that no one can take away from you. It is the thing that opens doors for you. I want them to dream bigger and have higher expectations for themselves.
Together, this duo has been working on a strategic plan for the upcoming school year.
“We would like the community to see that education is everybody’s job,” said Grissom. “We share the responsibility of education with the community, the parents, and the family, and we need them to help. We need the parents and family to help encourage the importance of education and supporting that thought.”
The little Eagles who enter the “nest” this school year will be greeted by two dedicated educators who have an obvious passion for the next generation and want to help them to learn to soar.