Nadine Griffey’s Story

nadine-griffey-400Nadine Griffey, for whom the Nadine Griffey Academy of Kenya is named, was a primary school teacher in California for twenty eight years. Nadine graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1972, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She married Larry Hines in 1976 and they resided in Camarillo, California until her death in 2004.

Nadine began her teaching career in 1972 at a private school and changed to the Santa Paula School District in 1975 where she remained until her retirement in 2004. She taught grades three through six for more than twenty years. In 1994, she was designated the Teacher of the Year by the Santa Paula Federation of Teachers. She also received a commendation signed by President Bill Clinton and Governor Pete Wilson, among many others. President Clinton wrote: “Your distinguished leadership and extraordinary services as an educator reflect your commitment to improving young lives.”

In 1999, Nadine was appointed New Teacher Project Coordinator, a teacher-of teachers position. Since that time until her retirement, she was entrusted with providing training, coaching and mentoring to more than one hundred first year teachers. In her mentoring role, she will be long remembered by the young teachers she helped as well as the hundreds of students she taught over the years.

Nadine served in a variety of leadership positions. She was a long time officer of the Santa Paula Federation of Teachers and an active member of the Board of Directors of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, Los Angeles chapter, including serving terms as Secretary and Treasurer. After being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome and later Lupus, rather than dwelling on the disease, she began mentoring many other women who suffered from the disorder and helped organize several symposiums to bring together national experts to help educate those who suffer with similar medical problems.

Nadine was also a vivacious and energetic person. She had many interests, including a love of all things Christmas. She was an avid collector of Hallmark Christmas ornaments and her family and friends were always delighted with her ten beautiful Christmas trees and decorations she assembled in the family home each yuletide season. Perhaps Nadine’s greatest gift came from her determination to help others and not let her own disabilities stop her. She tried to instill in her students, the teachers she counseled and others who suffered with physical problems her guiding philosophy: “There is the whole idea you can rise above the cards you’re dealt.” She lived by this thought and the Nadine Griffey Academy of Kenya will instill into its students this same determination.

Shirley Smithtro,
Member Board of Directors,
Nadine Griffey Academy of Kenya