A school, and a neighborhood, losing a leader

Resource type: News

Albuquerque Journal |

Grant Middle School, through the Elev8 initiative, is an Atlantic grantee.

by Lloyd Jojola

After 13 years as Grant Middle School principal, Ed Briggs, the man who says he aspired to be a runner, not a walker, in life and in education, is slowing the pace.

Briggs officially retires at the end of this month, ending a 33-year career in the Albuquerque Public Schools system.

“I’m going to step away and have some family time,” said Briggs, 58, although he added that he’s willing to stay on during the transition, should the district need him.

Among the things he’s most proud of during his long tenure: Grant Middle School becoming established as a community center as well as a school. Another is Grant’s association with Atlantic Philanthropies, which has helped develop such services as a health center.

“The culminating activity has been the fact that this is a full-service school,” Briggs said. “Kids come here and get educated, get tutored, have an arts, music and sports experience. And, if they have dental, a vision or a physical concern, they can go right here to the clinic.”

It was 12 years ago that Grant, near Constitution and Moon NE, started being used as a community center.

“After 12 years, we’ve hosted an excess of 4,000 or 5,000 a month through here, sometimes 2,000 or 3,000 a shot — Native American powwows, (youth) basketball, the YMCA leagues. Sometimes we’ll have a bluegrass group playing in a library, a church group. …”

The school essentially serves the community from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said.

And the neighborhood has recognized Briggs’ effort. A neighborhood note to the administrator said: “When you started having bigger groups and groups (in general) coming in here seven days a week, any time of the day or night, we had less vandalism to our yards. We had less graffiti to the neighborhood. We had less vandalism to the school. We had more and more pride to the community.”

An Anthony, Kan., native, Edgar W. Briggs earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Baker University in Kansas, and a master’s in special eduction from the University of New Mexico.

He worked at the Springer Boys School before he started teaching special education at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque.

After that, his career included stops at Highland and Manzano high schools and Truman Middle. He also did APS human resources work before landing at Grant.

“High school gave me the insight to what middle school (students) needed to be prepared for high school,” Briggs said.

He was heartened to hear that the district intends to establish more middle school programs. “They realize how many kids we’re losing nationally and locally in middle school,” he said. “If those fifth-graders come in here and disengage in middle, high school is gone. Skills, self-discipline, maturity, everything is gone.”

Briggs has always made himself accessible — his cell phone number is posted on the Grant Middle School marquee.

It falls in line with what he said is his simple approach to education: “Everybody has individual needs, and we need to meet them.”

Copyright (c) 2009, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

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Issues:

Children & Youth

Global Impact:

United States

Tags:

Elev8, Grant Middle School