By Michele Murphy
Darryl Graves, newly appointed assistant principal at Brookside Intermediate School (BIS) in the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake School District, has an impressive resume but is more concerned people know these two things abut him: he is fair and he is caring.
He began teaching in the 1970s and says things have changed a lot since then. One of those changes is that kids who struggle — regardless of circumstance — have more needed support today. Graves intends to be one of them, even though his job duties include serving as a “disciplinarian.”
He understands the term itself can cause consternation among kids and adults, then explains he intends to be a role model when it comes to fairness. He stressed the importance of communication that builds relationships among the building’s 545 students in grades 3 through 6.
He also sees his role as serving as an ombudsman — between kids, between kids and staff, and between parent, kids and staff. This is where his experience comes into play. In addition to teaching social studies, Graves coached football, wrestling and baseball. Somehow, amidst all that, he enrolled in and completed Cuyahoga Community College’s Police Academy. He did this at the behest of the Berea Police Department, where he then worked part-time primarily in summers filling in while officers were on vacation.
Graves was promoted to principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools for several Northeast Ohio school districts. While working his way up to a superintendent’s slot, he completed his master’s degree and significant post-master’s work. He also attained permanent certifications in teaching and counseling, as well as for principal and superintendent.
At age 53, he had accumulated 30 years of education service and retired. He smiles broadly when he admits he wasn’t really ready to retire.
In more recent years, he agreed to serve as a substitute in various education roles. Then he received a call from Superintendent Mike Cook and was asked to join the Brookside team.
“I feel I still have something to offer and I enjoy working with kids,” Graves says. He believes kids need an advocate and that he’s the guy for that job.
“They need a guiding hand,” he explains, but asserts having a fair and caring relationship is key because, “They also need to understand there are consequences for their poor choices.”
He says nothing makes him feel better than when former students he had to discipline walk up to him and shake his hand. He is proud of that show of mutual respect.
Just four weeks in, Graves says he is very impressed with students and staff at Brookside Intermediate. His plan to engage is forthright and simple: “If you are going to have an impact, they have to know you care about them.”
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