By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – When the bell rings on the first day of the 2017-2018 school year, it will be the first time in over three decades Grapeland ISD Superintendent Gregg Spivey will not be there to greet the students as either a teacher/coach or administrator.
Spivey announced his intention to retire earlier this year and on Friday, June 2, members of the GISD faculty and staff along with community members, family and friends gathered at the First Baptist Church – Grapeland Family Life Center to honor him for his dedication to the world of public education and to wish him well as he embarks on a new journey.
Once all the reception guests had arrived, GISD Board of Trustees President Eddie Childress presented the retiring superintendent with a plaque representing the district’s gratitude for Spivey’s service to the students, faculty, staff and parents involved with GISD.
The plaque stated, “In appreciation for your lifelong dedication to education, in believing in children, for guiding through example, for inspiring passion for living to love and for leaving an indelible mark on the future and for touching the human soul, you have made all the difference, with our gratitude and love, GISD.”
Once the applause subsided, Spivey spoke to the well-wishers present for the reception.
“I have really enjoyed the last four years here in Grapeland and I really enjoyed it over in Apple Springs (where he previously worked). I have said a lot of times Grapeland is like a bigger Apple Springs. The communities are a lot alike. There are really great people in both places,” he said.
Spivey spoke directly to his successor, Grapeland Elementary Principal Don Jackson, and said one of the most pleasant things about his tenure was working with the GISD Board of Trustees.
“You will learn this,” he said. “It makes such a big difference in having a good school board and having a good working relationship with the school. It makes all the difference in the world. I want to thank all the board members here and in Apple Springs. They have been fantastic to me.”
He also thanked his “… beautiful wife, Lori. Like I said the other night, it’s been a wild and crazy run but she stuck with me the whole time. She is truly the wind beneath my wings. I love her so much.”
Spivey said he was also very thankful for his two daughters, son-in-law and his granddaughter.
Last, but certainly not least, the outgoing superintendent expressed his appreciation to the faculty and staff of GISD.
“If you want to teach kids, find yourself some good teachers. That makes all the difference in the world. They are in the classroom every day, working with those kids. That is how you bring scores up and get good results,” he said.
“Some kids come to the schoolhouse better prepared than others and sometimes the scores don’t always reflect the job the teachers, staff and administrators do. I can promise you this – the folks at Grapeland ISD and at Apple Springs ISD have done a great job with all the students who have come through there. They have helped produce good people and that, to me, is the bottom line. If you can develop kids that turn out to be good folks and can help the world when they get out of school, that’s the main goal of our school district and I think we are doing a fantastic job,” Spivey said.
As the guests mingled with Spivey and his family, Childress spoke about him in glowing terms.
“Mr. Spivey came at a time when we needed his background to restore confidence in our district. He was everything we needed. I hate to see him go but I also understand that at some point in everyone’s life, there comes a point where they want to be closer to their family,” the board president said.
“We are very excited about the groundwork he has laid for Mr. Jackson. We are looking forward to the future with our new elementary getting started. We will have a new school down there and a new principal (Ginger Arbuckle) that will help us continue to move in the right direction,” Childress said.
The incoming superintendent, Don Jackson, also gave Spivey high praise.
“My thoughts on this are Gregg Spivey is still here. He has instilled in me things I will continue to use. He has been a successful superintendent for the last 15 years. He has been bending my ear and I have been listening. A lot of the things he was able to accomplish will stay because of the things he has instilled in me. He has been mentoring me and I have a deep appreciation for both he and his wife,” Jackson said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.