Courtland Griffin: I’m human
December 12, 2016
He put the football down to pick up an unexpected career in education. After ending his dream of playing football in 2001, Courtland Griffin, KHS social studies teacher and football coach, said he found a passion for helping students prosper.
“For a second I fought [becoming a teacher] because I had my own dreams,” Griffin said. “I finally went ahead and got my certification [after I] realized that helping kids is fulfilling.
Starting in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in 2002, Griffin looked at different schools until he went on to teach self-contained students at Stevens Alternative Middle School. Griffin said even though the kids were great people, everyday felt like a war zone. The students he taught were restricted from leaving the classroom and socializing with others, which was challenging at times, Griffin said.
“The last thing you’re worried about was them cursing you out because you just wanted to make sure they went to class,” Griffin said. “Here at Kirkwood it’s different, though. Every kid says ‘Thank you’ and I say, ‘You’re welcome?’ I give them homework and they thank me but [at other schools] I give homework and I may have heard two or three curse words.”
Niles Brinkley, walking counselor, had the opportunity to work with Griffin at McCluer North High School. Once Griffin sets his mind to something, he gives it his all and nothing less, Brinkley said.
“With Griffin, students gain someone who can relate to them and be honest with them,” Brinkley said. “He understands just how challenging things can be so he allows students to take their time when learning the things [they] need to know.”
According to Reece Goddard, senior, Griffin arrived at KHS during the start of this summer as the quarterback coach and since then the two have worked closely together. Goddard, varsity quarterback, has noticed that unlike many coaches, Griffin doesn’t teach by yelling until things are done correctly which shows just how much of a caring, knowledgeable guy he is.
“He understands how hard it is to do something and is a very supportive, positive guy so I’m happy to have him on the staff this year,” Goddard said.
Griffin said one of the biggest differences is Kirkwood’s atmosphere. According to him, the change in culture is mind-blowing to the point where he wishes he could visit the previous schools he’s taught at and persuade them to approach education the way that KHS students do.
“One thing I want Kirkwood kids to know is that I’m human,” Griffin said. “I’m not just a teacher. I am always a listening ear.”