Griffith reflects on her time at Mac, her future at ARS

Despite outlasting pandemic, dealing with never-ending facilities issues, outgoing principal says most memorable part of her time on campus was marveling at creative talents, strong character of student body

SETTING THE STAGE: Before the opening night of Urinetown: the Musical and with fine arts parents and outdoor stage organizers Nicole Wayman and Shaneye Ferrell looking on in approval, principal Nicole Griffith cuts a ribbon to mark the grand opening of the recently completed outdoor stage. Griffith also took the time to reflect on the process it took to create the stage and recognize the group of community members that worked to make their dream of a safe performance space a reality. District 4 trustee Kristin Ashy also gave a short speech on the drive and commitment of the McCallum community. The outdoor stage, a product of a Lowe’s grant and crowdfunding, is very literally a product of the community working together. A group of over 60 parents, teachers, and student volunteers worked to finish the stage in early February, and the stage will continue to serve as a space for performances, events, and club meetings. Reporting by Bella Russo.

Caroline Owen, host, audio engineer


In this episode of The S Word, Nicole Griffith talks Mac memories, career aspirations, and her decision to take the position of principal at Ann Richards.

Griffith wants to ensure the Mac community that her departure from the position she held for three years had nothing to do with the people or programs at Mac.

McCallum students are special in a lot of ways but mainly in their inclusive approach to life and to each other.

— outgoing principal Nicole Griffith

“I wasn’t searching for jobs because I was fully content in my current job,” Griffith said. “But when I started to think about long term and why I got into education, [the position at Ann Richards] fits better.”

Griffith has been a firm believer in experiential education ever since her 75 day trip through the Australian wilderness, which she did after college through the National Outdoor Leadership School.

“[I thought,] “How do you do this for kids?” because I had never felt that engaged in my learning before,” Griffith said. “And then decided, “I want to figure out a way to bring this to more kids. And I want to figure out a way to do it through public school.”

While she is eager to pursue that mission moving forward, she looks back at her three years with pride at how the community rallied past a time of great adversity.

“Getting us all through COVID that first year was probably the hardest and in some ways most rewarding thing,” Griffith said. “That first year I came in, there were staff members especially who were truly fearful for their lives.”

I wasn’t searching for jobs because I was fully content in my current job.

— Griffith

Griffith pointed to the Class of 2021 prom at Stubb’s and the innovation of the outdoor stage as proud accomplishments that helped the school over a time of fear and isolation.

“There were a lot of moments during COVID that were really special and rewarding.”

Most of all, she she also says she will remain a lifelong McCallum fan.

“McCallum has been a wonderful place to be a school leader,” Griffith said. “McCallum students are special in a lot of ways but mainly in their inclusive approach to life and to each other. McCallum kids are also so talented. When I think back of all the different moments, especially the moments that really stick out as a principal at McCallum, it’s how many times I was just in complete awe of the talent. It was fun to brag about McCallum because it was so easy to do so.”

To mark Griffith’s last week as McCallum’s principal, we thought it would be appropriate to create a special summer Tuesday Top 10 photo essay devoted to memorable moments during Griffith’s tenure as the school’s principal. We hope you enjoy it.

JUNE 23, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Former academy director at Austin High Nicole Griffith has been named as McCallum’s interim principal effective July 1. Before becoming the academy director, Griffith was a world geography teacher and before that, worked with educating students through time with wildlife. “Throughout my years working with young people, I have dedicated myself to providing enriching experiences that give students the opportunity to take their learning to a deeper level,” Griffith wrote in a statement to the faculty. “I have seen magic happen when teachers are given the opportunity, encouragement, and support to create authentic experiences for their students… I am committed to ensuring you have what you need to support students so they feel safe and equally valued during their journey here at McCallum.” Griffith already has some McCallum connection as well; she spent time at Austin High working side by side with McCallum English teacher Cassandra Troy. After observing and working with Griffith in the Austin High environment, Troy believes AISD has made a great hire. “Directing that program at Austin High was a tightrope act: it took finesse, patience, creativity, and straight-up grit to run that show,” Troy said. “She is hands-on and full of ideas. She’s intuitive and isn’t afraid to try new things. She is also an ally in the truest sense, for her teachers and her students, which is what we all need right now.” Photo courtesy of Nicole Griffith.

JULY 2, 2020

JULY 2 marked the introduction of a second new principal to the community in two years. Like last year, students, teachers and parents gathered to meet an interim principal. Unlike last year, however, when the campus met Brandi Hosack, interim principal Nicole Griffith was forced to meet everyone completely virtually due to COVID-19. “I’ve loved every parent meeting that I’ve had,” Griffith said. “The community as a whole has been so welcoming and so positive.” Whatever the structure of schooling in the fall, Griffith stressed the importance of providing support for Mac students, especially seniors approaching their final year of high school and freshmen making the transition to high school. She also said the school must ensure that the curriculum and class environment be wholly inclusive and tell “the whole story and not just one story or one narrative.” Reporting and screenshot by Elisha Scott.

AUG. 23, 2020

The S Word podcast is back in session with its first episode of the 2020-2021 year: a conversation with new interim principal Nicole Griffith. In an exclusive interview with The Shield, Griffith talks about her Texan childhood, her time in the Australian Outback, the benefits of project-based learning and her first impressions of the Mac campus culture. Photo courtesy of Nicole Griffith.

AUG. 26, 2020

Teachers have been working the last two weeks to get ready for the start of school, but this morning they became the students while five Student Leadership Team upperclassmen became their teachers. In a zoom webinar moderated by Austin ISD Social Emotional Learning specialist Katie O’Neil, seniors Marlee Foster, Javier Vela and Emily Arndt and juniors Bobby Currie and Naya Domingo spoke about their personal experiences at Mac and suggested schoolwide actions that could make McCallum a more equitable campus where all students, regardless of their skin color or gender identity, could enjoy the same statistical likelihood of experiencing success in the classroom and beyond. Introduced to the faculty by interim principal Nicole Griffith, the panelists encouraged teachers to strive for more diversity in their curricula and on the physical walls of their classrooms. They urged teachers not only to recruit more minority students in advanced classes and in demanding extracurricular and fine arts programs but also to take steps to make sure that BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) and LGTBQ+ students feel welcome and capable of success once there. At a couple of points during the webinar today, speakers had to pause due to nerves, and Currie and Foster both said that teachers’ response in those moments was uplifting. While today was a successful event, the panelists insisted it is but one positive step in a long journey the campus must take to achieve true equity. Foster laid out the challenge in concrete and simple terms. “This is a fight against prejudice,” they said, “but there is no villain. We are all here to try and help each other out, students to teachers, and teachers to students. The more we work on promoting equity in our school, the better school we’ll become.”

SEPT. 11, 2020

New principal Nicole Griffith sits at her desk at the end of her first week of school as the leader of the Mac campus. “It was a very interesting week,” Griffith said. “I felt myself testing different teachers asking ‘How’s it going?’ because normally I could walk into a classroom, but now it’s a little bit harder to do that.” “I thought we had a very successful first week, we had very good attendance, teachers felt like they were able to succeed in what they were asked to do; it was a very smooth first week.” When asked about the extension to the time teachers and staff had to prepare before the school year started, Griffith had this to say. “It made all the difference.” Griffith said. “I do not think we would have been ready at all; it would not have been as smooth a transition. Giving our teachers a lot more training worked on a system where teachers got the help they needed in the areas they needed. … I think it’s new for everybody.” Griffith said. This year has definitely been one that’s different for everyone and Griffith understands that. “I think everyone’s adjusting and the transition back is bigger in a lot of ways. Maybe some of them thought it was going to be like the way it was in the spring, and it’s not that way because in the spring we didn’t take attendance or really have grades, and now we have to have both of those things.” Griffith continued. “It’s really a lot more stressful than real school because it’s hard to be on a screen for this long. That’s true for teachers and students.” Reporting and caption by Javier Vela.

OCT. 5, 2020

Since teachers reported back to Mac today, as @austinisd began phasing in face-to-face learning, we asked Maculty members to send us a mask selfie or pose for one, and interim principal Nicole Griffith was happy to comply. (Dave Winter)

OCT. 20, 2020

Interim principal Nicole Griffith principal set up a trial run of the outdoor classroom initiative on Oct. 20. The initiative is a new teaching option she has been developing in partnership with @familiesinnature, that has allowed some teachers and students to be outside when learning. The risk of catching COVID-19 is lessened when you are outside, while still social distancing and wearing a mask. “I think that we thought this would be more temporary then it is and so we were putting Band-Aids on how to get through this,” Griffith said. “We’re coming to the realization that this is going to continue and so now it’s how do we really adjust.” (Dave Winter)

OCT. 30, 2020

There may not have been any in-person students on campus today for the final synchronous/asynchronous Friday before the Friday schedule changes next week, but that did not stop interim principal Nicole Griffith from bringing her meatiest costume game to school on the day before Halloween. (Dave Winter)

OCT. 30, 2020

BACON NEWS: MacJ co-adviser Dave Winter and Shield co-copy editor junior Madelynn Niles were talking essential newspaper business during fourth period until interim principal Nicole Griffith interrupted the meating in order bring a little sizzle to the session. It’s a fat bet that they won’t forget the visit any time soon no matter how hard they fry. (David Winter)

NOV. 2, 2020

Just before first period on Nov. 2, the first day that in-person students attended the first regular classes, principal Nicole Griffith mans the main hallway awaiting students who need help finding their classrooms. Photo by Dave Winter.

DEC. 4, 2020

Shout out to principal Nicole Griffith for being all in for Mac Pride Day for her first Hoco at Mac? Principal Griffith has also agreed to serve on the judging panel that will determine the winner of today’s Mac Spirit Day photo contest. The other judges: Mr. Andrew Cooke and Ms. Audrea Moyers. It’s all tied up. Today’s winner brings home the spirit stick for their class. Submit your photos to @mccallumstuco to enter the contest and also here to be featured on this feed and in our print media.

JAN. 21, 2021

During sixth period today, principal Nicole Griffith and assistant principal Andy Baxa surprised SCORES teacher and head tennis coach Chris Purkiss with the news that the Maculty has voted Purkiss the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year. Sophomore tennis player Malia Walewski seconded the faculty’s decision today, telling MacJournalism that Purkiss is a teacher who is always there for all of his students. “Coach Purkiss is a teacher that I feel I can always come to,” she said. “He creates an atmosphere that feels very safe and open. I love being in his classroom whether it be online or in person. He makes it very clear that he cares about all of his students.” All of us at MacJournalism would like to congratulate Purkiss and finalists Diana Adamson and Jeff Seckar-Martinez for being amazing teachers in this most challenging year to be a teacher. Reporting by Liliana Rodriguez. Video by Andy Baxa. Photos by Dave Winter.

JAN. 29, 2021

This past weekend, a group of McCallum community stakeholders, including Principal Griffith celebrated her birthday by wielding a history-making shovel, came together to break ground, excavate and pour the foundation for the outdoor stage and retaining wall. On Tuesday Feb. 2, parent volunteer Nicole Wayman, who has been one of the prime movers for the project, said the wood forms were to be removed from the concrete foundation. Lowe’s delivered materials the following Friday, and the community build (kind of like an Amish barn raising) took place on Saturday and Sunday. Frontier Bank committed $1,500 to the stage, and the GoFundMe fundraiser raised upwards of $10,000 for the project. COVID-19 protocols, which included mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing and hand sanitzing, were followed during the community build. Photo by Jonathan Orenstein.

MARCH 4, 2021

SETTING THE STAGE: Before the opening night of Urinetown: the Musical and with fine arts parents and outdoor stage organizers Nicole Wayman and Shaneye Ferrell looking on in approval, principal Nicole Griffith cuts a ribbon to mark the grand opening of the recently completed outdoor stage. Griffith also took the time to reflect on the process it took to create the stage and recognize the group of community members that worked to make their dream of a safe performance space a reality. District 4 trustee Kristin Ashy also gave a short speech on the drive and commitment of the McCallum community. The outdoor stage, a product of a Lowe’s grant and crowdfunding, is very literally a product of the community working together. A group of over 60 parents, teachers, and student volunteers worked to finish the stage in early February, and the stage will continue to serve as a space for performances, events, and club meetings. Reporting by Bella Russo. (Bella Russo)

MARCH 1, 2021

The pandemic made March 1, 2021, feel like yet another first day of school for many underclassmen who had yet to set foot in the building until that day. It made us document moments like this one of principal Griffith helping a student find his way around the campus … in March … to document signs of student life on a campus that was in desperate need of them. (Dave Winter)

MARCH 12, 2021

This morning during Mac Connect, executive director of high schools Sheila Henry announced to the McCallum faculty and staff that Nicole Griffith has been confirmed as the permanent McCallum principal. Henry congratulated Griffith and expressed her support. “Ms. Griffith, tell your community… that you are going to be taking care of McCallum for the next 50 years,” Henry said. “As always, I am going to be right here to support all of your work.” (Dave Winter)

JUNE 2, 2021

Principal Nicole Griffith presided over her first and last senior send-off parade in June 2021. Forecasts projecting that bad weather might rain on Wednesday’s Senior Celebration Parade proved false as the parade went on as scheduled under a Chamber of Commerce blue sky. The parade route for the Class of 2021 was longer than last year’s parade, beginning at Brentwood Elementary and culminating in the theatre and band parking lots. The graduates appreciated the chance to assemble and celebrate with peers and the larger community. “The parade was so amazing,” Jesse Rodriguez said. “Seeing everyone cheer for us was the best part.” Eliana Herrera added that seeing people she hadn’t seen in a while was special.
“I was glad the parade went on,” Jonah Rehder added. “I knew a bunch of people that cheered us on.” Photo by Dave Winter. (Dave Winter)

AUG. 5, 2021

After the sophomores and new upperclassmen had their introduction to Mac campus and culture on Wednesday, the Class of 2025 had its orientation day on Thursday. To kick off the morning and afternoon sessions, principal Nicole Griffith asked the freshmen if their middle school teachers had ever told them that the stuff they pulled in middle school would not fly when they got to high school. While not entirely repudiating that message, Griffith assured the freshmen that she and her colleagues on the MAC stage and faculty were there to make sure that the newest Knights had successful school years and high school careers. The PALS and the cheer team then led the freshmen on a series of orientation activities including campus tours, speed interviews and question-and-answer sessions. (Dave Winter)

AUG. 27, 2021

Coach Amy and Coach Grant: Good morning, Ms. Griffith, we would like to introduce you to an old friend. #TacoShack #Trophy #KnightTime #dayinthelifeatmac (Dave WInter)

SEPT. 2, 2021

When seniors Samantha Powers and Alex Kim saw each other walking towards Principal Nicole Griffith’s office, they both realized what was about to happen. “I was in my calculus class and got called into the office,” Powers said. “I knew Alex did really well on the PSAT, so I told the guy walking me ‘If I see Alex in the hallway, I’ll know what this is.’ Then I saw Alex, and I started jumping up and down.” Moments later, Powers and Kim found out that they were named National Merit Semi-Finalists for their PSAT scores last January. Griffith, who presented Powers and Kim with their official certificates, thanked both students for their hard work and for representing McCallum well. “I was really happy,” Kim said. “It was just a massive rush of happiness. I am happy to be representing McCallum.” Powers was glad to be sharing the moment with Kim. “Alex and I high-fived and Ms. Griffith gave us candy,” Powers recalled. “So overall? Ten out of 10 day.”
Caption by Alysa Spiro. Photo by Noah Braun. (Noah Braun)

SEPT. 9, 2021

Principal Griffith at the first Spectrum meeting of the year. Club leaders Caytie Brown and Ceder Herring invited Griffith to a meeting so she could share her story as an LGBTQ+ person. Having the support from Griffith has allowed Spectrum to facilitate more open discussions. “I feel like other schools would be weirded out, ” Brown said. “Like, ‘The principal’s telling a story?’ But I think Mac culture is pretty accepting.” (Francesca Dietz)

OCT. 8, 2021

Today’s Pink Week pep rally might not have had all the trappings of a traditional Mac pep rally, but it sure was nice to gather and watch the cheer and Blue Brigade dance, hear the band play and wish our fall sports teams well. And there was pie in the face for select members of the Maculty, most notably the first pies for College and Career counselor Camille Nix and principal Nicole Griffith. Photo by Dave Winter.

OCT. 29/NOV. 4, 2021

Mac versus Crockett 10-29-21 (photo by Dave Winter), House Park
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At successive football game against Crockett on Oct. 29 and Travis on Nov. 4, principal Nicole Griffith participated in a giant Whataburger French Fry tossing contest against the principal from the opposing school. We think that both schools received a donation from Whataburger, but we are also fairly certain that Griffith fried the competition with her sizzling athletic skills both games. Photos by Max Davis, Mia Gomez, Charlie Partheymuller and Dave Winter.

NOV. 15, 2021

Juniors Sofia Dorsett and Clarissa Castro, who helped organize the student walkout on Monday, Nov. 14, address the large crowd of students who filled the library for the first meeting of McCallum Against Sexual Assault. On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the day after the student-led walkout against sexual violence, the brand new McCallum Against Sexual Assault organization, or MASA, met during FIT. The first meeting of the new organization was led by teacher Kelly Wroblewski, principal Nicole Griffith and juniors Sofia Dorsett and Clarissa Castro, who helped organize the student walkout on Monday, Nov. 14 as well. The overall goal of MASA is to create impactful change at McCallum, and form a safe and supportive space for student survivors of sexual assault and their allies. “We were looking for a way to maintain the momentum from the walkout and maintain a pattern of action,” Castro said. Another attendee, junior Helena Finos, said that Wroblewski stressed at the meeting that this issue cannot be fixed in a day, but that sustained action over time is how you make change happen. Finos said she was moved by the walkout and thought the organization was an important way to continue the fight. “There is something about seeing everyone in that room that gave me a sense of hope,” Finos said. (Dave Winter)

DEC. 17, 2021

Let the holiday record show that the final (as in last not as in exam) Finals (as in exams not as in last) Week Faculty Fun winner was Shelley Goldstein who took the top prize (an awesome possum) on ALL OUT SPIRIT DAY. To be honest, though, all faculty members were winners today because they received an insulated Mac lunch bag and a hand-made starfish ornament from Principal Griffith and a delicious lunch from the PTSA. (Dave Winter)

JAN. 25, 2022

Principal Griffith, Mr. Baxa, Ms. Sherline and Ms. Stone marched from the main hall to the science hall this morning during first period to surprise the 2022 Teacher of the Year with flowers, cake and a certificate to commemorate her hard work, not only during the this school year, but throughout her teaching career. Nicole Sorto, a teacher at McCallum since 1993 and science department chair since 2019, was recognized with the title of Teacher of the Year today. “I was completely caught off guard, I wasn’t even thinking about that,” Sorto said. “I’m just super honored, and really happy.” Photo by Caroline Owen. Ms. Sorto was not the only teacher recognized by her peers. Spanish teacher Daniel Fuentes and English department chair Diana Adamson were also nominated as finalists for Teacher of the Year on Jan. 6. Sorto said she was honored to be in a group with the other nominees. “[They] are amazing,” Sorto said. “To just be nominated is pretty incredible.”

APRIL 30, 2022

At Prom 2022, the theme, One Last Knight, the venue and the fashion did not disappoint. Seniors arrived at 800 Congress on the evening of April 30 for a night of Old Hollywood Glamour. From strutting down the red carpet, to greeting friends and classmates, to taking photos, to dancing the night away, many of those in attendance made memories that will last. Even the admin team came dressed to impress. Photo by Julia Husted.

JUNE 2, 2022

The Class of 2022 graduated on Thursday afternoon during a commencement ceremony at the Burger Activity Center. The ceremony was replete with the traditional moments of a graduation ceremony. Principal Nicole Griffith welcomed those in attendance and introduced the school and district leaders who gathered on the dais. Class president Naya Domingo and student council president Anna McClellan led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Texas Flag. Members of the choir performed the Mac commencement ceremony staple, “In My Life.” The resilience of students and the pivotal role of teachers were two themes that emerged from Thursday’s ceremony. AISD District 4 Trustee Kristin Ashy stressed the latter in an address in which he fought back tears in honoring the memory of Robb Elementary teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia in order to illustrate the selfless heroism of teachers. The selfless and essential role of teachers was an idea that was later amplified in the salutatory address of Samantha Powers and the valedictory address of Alysa Spiro. We are going to present more from those speeches in subsequent commencement galleries on this feed. In her address to the Class of 2022, Outgoing superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde praised graduates for overcoming a litany of unannounced challenges, everything from the pandemic, to the debate over masks, from the winter storm to the boil water notice, joking that she had never heard of such a thing before moving to Austin.Principal Nicole Griffith echoed that theme in her address to the class. “Your high school experience has been different than anyone could have predicted,” Griffith said. “Your sophomore year was cut short as we all went home for what we thought would be a quick little pandemic. You spent your junior year staring at little black boxes on Zoom, sometimes forgetting to mute. Then came senior year. With a mask on your face and a heart full of hope you led the charge to breathe life back into our school. When ninth graders didn’t know what they were supposed to do, you showed them. Thank you for your leadership during this trying time. Through everything you have endured, the McCallum Knights Class of 2022 has risen to the occasion. Being here today tells us all that you made it work. That you are more resilient than you ever thought. Your strength to overcome gives us all hope for the future.” Griffith went on to review the long list of stellar achievements of the Class of 2022, academic, athletic, fine arts and extracurricular. She closed with a poignant shout out to the students who balanced their school work with essential work doing in the service of their family. “During this challenging time, many of our seniors stepped up to help care for younger siblings and family members so their parents could continue to work,” Griffith said. “Others worked jobs to help their family make ends meet while attending school full time. We are proud of you for stepping up for family while you continued to manage your obligations at school.” The addresses were followed with the distribution of diplomas and a final singing of the alma mater. Caption continues on comment. (Dave Winter)

AUG. 15, 2022

ON A TOUR: Superintendent Dr. Mays and Principal Griffith pose for a photo as they enter the cafeteria to receive the Marching band’s welcome. 
The former chief of schools turned interim superintendent used to supervise all schools in his former position, and plans to continue to visit other schools throughout the district. During his time at McCallum, Mays toured classrooms alongside Principal Nicole Griffith, including the newspaper room. “It meant a lot that Dr. Mays and his crew asked specifically to visit our classroom,” Shield adviser Dave Winter said. “I’m grateful that they are aware of and are interested in learning more about the work that MacJournalism does.” Today, Dr. Mays toured other AISD high schools, which will be followed by visits to elementary schools on Friday. Caption by Morgan Eye. (Morgan Eye)

AUG. 18, 2022

WE’VE GOT SUNSHINE ON A CLOUDY DAY: If we post a gallery of after-school rain on Sunshine, would that be visual irony, breaking Austin weather news or both? Principal Nicole Griffith and assistant principal Larry Featherstone are sure to be in it if we do. (Dave Winter)

SEPT. 6, 2022

Students and staff wore maroon to school this Tuesday in solidarity of Uvalde students’ return to school since the recent tragic school shooting on May 24, 2022. This show of support was shared state-wide as more than 20 school districts in central Texas, including AISD, wore Uvalde’s colors maroon and white. “I think it just makes us all very reflective as educators and people who spend a whole lot of time in schools about how the students are our No. 1 priority,” Principal Nicole Griffith said. “I just feel a whole lot of empathy for the staff and students and also the families who are having to go back after facing such a trauma.” Senior Catalina Flores felt that wearing maroon was a small gesture that allowed her and her peers to share their empathy for Uvalde’s students and faculty on their first day back on campuses. Uvalde school officials delayed the start of the 2022-23 school year to give everyone more time to prepare for returning to school. “I can’t even imagine the thoughts going through the students’ heads after the tragedy, and I think AISD wanted to do this to let them know we are here for them and thinking of Uvalde,” Flores said.
Assistant Principal Andy Baxa felt that this was a positive way to extend love and support to the community of Uvalde state-wide.
“It’s showing that we’re all part of the same state, we’re all part of the same issue, we all want the same thing,” Baxa said. “We all want everybody to come to school and feel safe and that’s our No. 1 goal.” Reporting by Amaya Collier. Photo by Dave Winter.

SEPT. 27, 2022

Veteran photojournalist Nicole Griffith snaps a candid shot of college and career counselor Camille Nix and senior Sabine Collins during Pink Week activities on Tuesday Sept. 27, 2022, in the courtyard across the cafeteria. (Dave Winter)

NOV. 11, 2022

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO GRADUATE: This morning McCallum hosted a special recognition ceremony for two former AISD students whose military service prevented them from graduating. William Nealy who served in the Army and National Guard during the war in Afghanistan for 15 years and Ricky Sauls who served in the United States Marine Corps from 1973-1978 received their long-awaited high school diplomas.
Principal Griffith says it was a privilege to host this event on Veterans Day to help thank them for their service in such a special way.
”It is an honor to be able to celebrate our veterans this way.” Griffith said. ”I think for them it is just something that was hanging out there that never happened, and this allows them to feel the pride of being a graduate.” (Lilian Gray)


SUNNY CALIFORNIA: Principal Nicole Griffith poses with her wife Brenda and son Langston at the golden gate bridge in San Francisco.
For Griffith, Thanksgiving break is perfectly timed.  “Thanksgiving comes at just the right time every year when we all really need a mental break from school, and this year I was able to completely forget that I was a high school principal and just be on vacation with my family. I didn’t check my email which I needed to do. It was a nice refresher.” In their time in California, the group, along with Griffith’s mother, saw sights such as Alcatraz, took a cable car ride, rode a train and visited the science museum. “San Francisco is a fun place to be but it is also a place that is special to our family,” Griffith said. “My wife lived there and really loves it. I always joke that she left her heart there and we have to go pick it up every once and a while.” Most excited for the trip was Langston.  “[My son] loves travel. He gets so excited. He is a definite travel bug, which I don’t know where he gets that. But he loves travel, loves being around his grandparents. It was really great.” The young adventurer got to lean his head out the window on the train, learn cards with his grandmother and explore all of the sea creatures at the aquarium. Griffith was also thankful to miss the rainy weather in Austin. “The weather was beautiful [in San Francisco],” Griffith said. “We missed all the rain in Texas. By the time we got back on Saturday it had passed. But it was sunny in San Francisco and super clear. We never didn’t have these beautiful expanses of light.” 
Photo courtesy of Nicole Griffith. Reporting by Morgan Eye. (Nicole Griffith) 

DEC. 16, 2022

ADAME VOTED TEACHER OF THE YEAR: This morning as the first final exam period began during fifth period, principal Nicole Griffith, associate principal Andy Baxa and assistant principals Tamara Stone and Larry Featherstone made a second attempt to surprise science teacher Gabe Adame with the news that the Maculty had voted him Teacher of the Year. (Dave Winter)

FEB. 23, 2023


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In seventh-period newspaper, Principal Nicole Griffith signed the New Voices Texas administrator’s pledge standing against censorship and with the New Voices movement. #studentpressfreedom #SJW2023 #MoreToTheStory

MARCH 6, 2023

WALL OF NOTABLE WOMEN RETURNS: The month of March marks Women’s History Month, which means that the PALS are celebrating notable women in the main hallway with a full-length paper wall awaiting the names of notable women. In a longstanding tradition, the PALS encourage students and staff to come and write the names of women they think are essential or impactful for all students passing by the wall to see. Principal Nicole Griffith makes sure that history records that the most important notable woman in her life is recognized as notable. (Dave Winter)

MARCH 20, 2023

YEAR ROUND PRIDE: Principal Nicole Griffith fixes a pride flag to the Knight mural in the main hallway. Though the official PRIDE Month is not until June, AISD has hosted a PRIDE Week during the school year since 2014. “I know that this isn’t when everyone else celebrates PRIDE, but I love that AISD takes a moment in the year to celebrate,”  Griffith said. “We can’t celebrate during the summer because all of our students are here, so taking that extra step so we can have that PRIDE Week where we validate and celebrate and empower students and staff and their families to feel that there is a place for them here is really important.” Griffith compared the current environment favorable to her experience as a student growing up in a less tolerant age where it was much harder to LBBTQ+ students to be visible and free to express themselves. “This whole generation is so much more accepting,” Griffith said. “As an educator, I think back to my own time as a middle and high school student, and there was zero representation and certainly no representation so to be able to see young people embrace diversity is really refreshing because that is not the world I grew up in.” Caption by Morgan Eye. Photo by Dave Winter. (Dave Winter)

MAY 8, 2023

DONUT LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR: Given that versions of the racoon story have been published on Fox News, Huffington Post, the New York Post, United Press International and countless other outlets recently, you might think the subject of raccoons would be frowned upon near the doughnuts in the main office today on the first day of Teacher Appreciaton Week. Think again. Photo by Dave Winter.

MAY 25, 2023

BREAKING NEWS: Principal Nicole Griffith told the faculty today that she has accepted the principal’s job at Ann Richards and will assume that role July 1. She thanked the faculty for welcoming her and her family into the Mac community and said the decision was a hard one to make. She called the principal’s job at Ann Richards a lifelong dream. (Dave Winter)

MAY 26, 2023

A FAREWELL TO RETIRING TEACHERS: A day after her sudden and unexpected announcement that she was leaving McCallum to become the principal at Ann Rivers, Griffith shifted the focus of Friday’s meeting to McCallum teachers. After inviting them to share the weirdest story from their school year, she celebrated teachers who went above and beyond, those who enjoyed milestone anniversaries in their career and those who were leaving for jobs elsewhere. As is the case every year, the meeting culminated in a celebration of retiring teachers. Ms. Juana Guan was unable to attend the meeting so Griffith spoke on her behalf. The other four retirees offered parting thoughts about their time at McCallum as they said goodbye to their peers. At the end of the meeting Griffith reiterated what the message she delivered to the staff the day before. Video by Alice Scott.