Gov. Haslam, Commissioner McQueen Name New Leader of the Achievement School DistrictMemphis-based turnaround leader will also provide state-level leadership for Tennessee’s school improvement efforts, serve as a senior leader at the department
Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced today that Dr. Sharon Griffin will be the new Assistant Commissioner of School Turnaround and Chief of the Achievement School District, the state-led district that serves schools in the bottom 5 percent of academic achievement. In this new role, Dr. Griffin will also join the Tennessee Department of Education’s senior leadership team and collaborate with the new Office of School Improvement as part of Tennessee’s comprehensive approach to school turnaround.
Dr. Griffin is currently the chief of schools for Shelby County Schools (SCS) and has been a teacher and leader in Memphis education for more than 25 years. During her time with SCS, she has led school improvement work through overseeing the district’s iZone schools, which have seen gains in student achievement. She has received national recognition for this work, including when EdWeek named her as one of the country’s 2017 Leaders to Learn From.
"The ASD is an important lever in turning around some of the state’s lowest performing schools,” Gov. Haslam said. “Dr. Griffin has proven herself to be a strong leader, and I look forward to having her in this state-wide role.”
Dr. Griffin will join the district in late May. She will continue to be based in Memphis, which is where most schools in the district are located, and advise the turnaround work that is happening statewide. In May, the governor and commissioner will join her in Memphis to officially welcome her to the Achievement School District community.
“Dr. Sharon Griffin is a proven turnaround leader, one of the few in the country, and we are excited that she will now be able to bring her expertise to a statewide role that will benefit all of Tennessee’s turnaround efforts. She also deeply understands Memphis, where we have the majority of our Achievement School District schools and state Priority schools,” Commissioner McQueen said. “I am personally looking forward to working with her as we continue our efforts to ensure all students have a first-class education that sets them up for long-term success.”
Currently, the Achievement School District is being led by Interim Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Airhart, a deputy commissioner who took on the role after the departure of Malika Anderson last fall. Dr. Griffin will be the third leader of the district, which began in 2011-12 and now serves 32 schools. The search for a new superintendent had a particular focus on identifying a leader who can build on the what the state has learned about school improvement; who is deeply committed to the Memphis community, in particular; and who understands the systemic challenges that students in our Priority schools often face – both in and out of the classroom – and will build supports that foster the development of the whole child.
In addition to Dr. Griffin, the department will soon add a leader to oversee the development and support of high-quality public charter schools, and this role will work closely with Dr. Griffin to support the portfolio of charter operators serving schools in the Achievement School District.
For more information about the Achievement School District or media inquiries about the district, please contact Robert White, executive director of external affairs, at Robert.White@tn-asd.org or visit the district's website at achievementschooldistrict.org. For other media inquiries related to the department of education or the search for the new leader of the Achievement School District, please contact Sara Gast at Sara.Gast@tn.gov.