Griffin Wants to Boost STEM-based Programs, Food-Pantry Services in Stafford County
– October 15, 2013 12:16 pm
- Age: 28
- Political Party: Independent
- Running for: Stafford County School Board
- District: Aquia
- Opponent: Irene Egan
- Originally from: Upland, CA
- Profession: Defense Contractor, CACI International Inc.
- Education: University of Maryland University College
- Degree: Bachelor’s degree in homeland security (2010)
- Education: Henley-Putnam University
- Degree: Graduate certificate in intelligence and terrorism profiling (2012)
- Education: American Military University
- Degree: Master’s in international relations (2013)
- Education: University of Phoenix
- Degree: Bachelor’s degree in Business Management (projected: 2015)
- Family: Boyfriend: Michael; His daughter: Kallie, 4.
- Military: U.S. Navy
- Active duty (2002-2007)
- Reserve (2009-2013)
- Other: Vice Chair of the School Board Advisory Committee (2013-Current)
- Industrial Development Authority – Director (2012-Current)
- Transportation Advisory Group – Vice Chair (2011-Current)
- Stafford County School Board Advisory Committee for Technology – Vice Chair (2010-Current)
- Architectural Review Board – Secretary (2011-Current)
- Stafford County 350th Anniversary Committee – Member (2012-2013)
- Opened North Stafford Farmers Market (June 2012)
Vanessa Griffin is an active member of the Aquia community. She currently serves on a variety of different community boards and committees and helped organize and initiate the first North Stafford Farmers Market.
“Our community had a need for the production of local produce so I made it happen. I found the funding; I ran through all the red tape and was able to deliver that to the community,” she says. “Not only have we been able to partner with the local food pantry (S.E.R.V.E.) and provide nearly 500 pounds of produce per week, but are planning to implement the SNAP (food stamps) program next year to further extend our services to the lower income families in Stafford.”
Griffin is running for the Aquia seat on the Stafford County school board because she says she wants to continue to produce results for her community.
“I probably spend just as much time donating to the community as I do at my regular job,” she says. Griffin works for CACI International Inc., a professional services and information technology (IT) company that serves Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian customers. When she isn’t working at her job center, she says she is working with the community as well as nonprofits to discover new ways to help Stafford succeed.
“I’ve had a lot of leadership roles and I’m extremely dedicated,” she says. “Anyone that knows me knows that I’m always in a million different places at once making things happen and that I’m 100 percent committed.”
Griffin is also currently working on the food pantry program offered by S.E.R.V.E, a nonprofit that provides emergency relief to those in need.
“I’m trying to help the food pantry down here boost their program,” she says. “When people talk to you and say ‘Thank you for making this happen,’ it really makes it all worth it. Just to see how many people you’re actually affecting.”
Issues in Education
Griffin says that it is important that Stafford County improve teacher salaries in order to retain current teachers and attract new ones.
“The pay rate around the county has approved, but we are missing opportunities to attract quality teachers with a better salary,” she says. Recently, Governor Bob McDonnell awarded $4.5 million in Strategic Teacher Compensation Grants, which rewarded teachers in 13 school division based on student achievement, professional growth and leadership.
Griffin says that those grants, ranging from about $26,000 to $850,000, could have been an ideal opportunity for Stafford County to provide incentives to attract new teachers.
“If I am elected, I would be on the lookout to make sure we are not missing these opportunities that the other schools may be taking and are passing us by.”
Another issue Griffin says she would look into is a solution to evaluating the performance of Stafford schools, teachers and students.
“The No Child Left Behind Act was a little too extreme with encouraging teachers to just “teach to test,” she says. “This skews how kids are actually doing and how the schools are performing, because you’re not teaching concept as much so as memorization.”
The General Assembly passed legislation last session that assigns a letter-grade rating system to schools based on performance. Griffin says that one blanket solution doesn’t necessarily work for every school.
“We have to be somewhere in between. We need to monitor the progress of the students but also how trusted the teachers actually are,” she says.
Griffin says she would like to see STEM-based educational programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) expand in Stafford County.
“One in every five jobs now is STEM related,” she says. “There are grants out there right now that are trying to boost this level of education. Stafford County started and they have a small program that is developing right now but if we seek out the right kind of funding and make the right budgetary decisions, we could really make it into a very strong program.”