Principal Christy Grandstaff

Principal Christy Grandstaff pictured at her desk at Wiggin Street Elementary School in Gambier, Ohio. 

GAMBIER -- For as long as Wiggin Street Elementary School’s new principal Christy Grandstaff can remember, she wanted to be an educator. 

As a child, Grandstaff recalls being upset when adults overlooked her or talked down to her. So, she has dedicated her career to making sure children are seen.

“I make a point to always make connections with the kids,” Grandstaff said. 

Principal Christy Grandstaff

Principal Christy Grandstaff poses on the front steps of Wiggin Street Elementary. 

While Grandstaff has long known she wanted to work with children, she originally had no desire to be an administrator, she said. 

The beginning of her education career comprised various teaching roles throughout Knox County, with the majority of her time spent at the school she now leads.

Her first educator role was a learning disabilities tutor, now called an intervention specialist, at Mount Vernon High School and then at Fredericktown Local Schools. Grandstaff went on to work as a fifth grade teacher for two years at Fredericktown, before assuming the role of fifth grade teacher at Wiggin Street Elementary — a role she had for 14 years. 

But, a team she joined while teaching at Wiggin Street altered her outlook on administrative work. 

Grandstaff served on the district’s leadership team, working to establish goals to meet the various needs of the district’s students. 

“That just opened my eyes up to the needs of the whole district and how I could impact a greater number of students,” Grandstaff said. 

Following her work at Wiggin Street, Grandstaff served as assistant principal at Mount Vernon Middle School, a three-year role she worked until assuming her first head principal position at Wiggin Street on the first of this month. 

“The past three years was my opportunity to learn the role of an administrator,”  Grandstaff said.

Grandstaff worked on the middle school Response to Intervention program, a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. She said another main focus of her administrative work thus far has been ensuring consistent student attendance. 

She had to deal with discipline a lot at the middle school level as well, she said, but she views discipline as an opportunity for growth rather than simply punishment.

Grandstaff’s growth-oriented mindset aligns with that of another new principal in Knox County — Adam Mowery, who assumed the role of Twin Oak Elementary this month. 

Both Grandstaff and Mowery will be prioritizing students’ social and emotional wellbeing as they begin their leadership journeys. 

Another goal of Grandstaff: clear and frequent communication, between administrators and parents/students but also among the school’s educators.  

“Our theme this year is better together,” Grandstaff said.

Having already worked as an administrator during the COVID-19 pandemic,  Grandstaff said she learned communication is key to ensuring students have the resources they need to succeed — whether that be internet access, technology, etc. 

Grandstaff foresees addressing learning loss after remote learning as the school’s largest challenge in the coming years, for which she said academic interventions and individualized support for students will be crucial. 

She also plans to prioritize family involvement, she said. 

During her teaching tenure at Wiggin Street, Grandoff said one of her proudest accomplishments was helping organize a family literacy night. The night had a campfire theme, complete with tents set up in the gym, a nature soundtrack and flashlights.

Students, families, educators and local government officials gathered and spent the night reading together. 

“I would love to get more opportunities to have our families involved, and to make sure we’re making time for families to read and do activities together,” Grandstaff said. 

Grandstaff has been a part of the Mount Vernon/Gambier community for several decades. She raised five children in the community and now has several grandchildren also growing up in the area, a few of which have been students at Wiggin Street.

She has also been educated in the area herself, having graduated from Mount Vernon High School and Mount Vernon Nazarene University and receiving her Master’s degree from Walden University and her PreK-12 Principal License from Ashland University.

She moved to Mount Vernon as a high school freshman, after her father took a controller job at C&E Cooper Iron Works, more recently known as the location of Siemens Energy Inc. Her family lived in various states prior to Ohio — Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania — but Grandstaff ultimately decided to make Ohio home. 

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Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.

Emma Davis is a 2021 graduate of the University of Richmond, from which she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and leadership studies. Emma reports for Knox Pages and Ashland Source through Report for America.