Intersection of Cherry and 25th named in honor of late WS/FCS educator

Nearly 100 people gathered at the intersection for the unveiling of the street sign.

Intersection of Cherry and 25th named in honor of late WS/FCS educator
February 23
11:07 2023

The intersection of Cherry and 25th Streets will now and forever be known as Mildred R. Griffin Way. 

Last weekend nearly 100 people gathered at the intersection for the unveiling of the street sign and reflected on the life and legacy of the longtime educator. Griffin, who died last year, taught and volunteered in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) for more than 50 years. 

A native of Winston-Salem, Griffin dropped out of high school in 1952 to travel with her late husband, James Griffin, who was in the Marine Corps. Griffin returned to Winston-Salem in 1963 and earned her high school diploma by taking adult evening classes at Paisley High School. In May 1967 Griffin earned her bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and went on to earn her master’s degree from NC A&T State University. 

Soon after receiving her master’s, Griffin returned to the local school district as a teacher. Griffin spent most of her career at Lewisville Elementary School, but she retired from Konnoak Elementary. Throughout her teaching career, Griffin was known as the type of teacher who would go above and beyond to make sure her students had what they needed to succeed inside and outside the classroom. 

After retiring, Griffin continued to mentor teachers at Philo-Hill Middle School, Cook Elementary School and Kimberley Park Elementary School. In 2017 Griffin was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award during The Chronicle’s annual Community Service Awards. 

After the street sign was unveiled on Saturday, Feb. 11, several speakers talked about the impact Griffin had on their lives. Before reading the proclamation signed by Mayor Allen Joines, Norma Corley said it’s appropriate that the sign be unveiled during Black History Month. “It’s so appropriate that we honor this she-ro during Black History Month,” Corley said. 

N.C. State Representative Amber Baker said Griffin stepped into her life while she was a student at Winston-Salem State University. Baker said Griffin saw something in her and she helped mold her into the person she is today. Long before she ever thought about running for office, Baker said Griffin instilled the confidence in her to do it. While at WSSU, Baker said Griffin encouraged her to run for leadership roles for different organizations, including the board of directors for the NEA (National Education Association). 

Before being elected to serve the constituents of District 72, Baker served as principal of Kimberley Park Elementary School, and although she had retired from teaching, Griffin was always just a call away. Baker said Griffin mentored more than 50 teachers at Kimberley Park. 

“She was instrumental in guiding my entire career,” Baker said. 

Mae Burner said Griffin was her fifth grade teacher. Burner said at that time in her life she had just been put into foster care and felt like she had nobody in her corner. “I was angry, I was hurt. I felt like nobody cared and she took me under her wings and she was really there for me,” said Burner while standing under the sign last Saturday morning. Burner said Griffin was her inspiration for deciding to attend WSSU and becoming a teacher.

“She would tell me a lot of times you are going to be somebody …  I didn’t feel like that. She told me a lot of times you’re smarter than you think … I didn’t feel that. She worked really hard with me to help me realize that I was somebody,” she said. “I believe that God sent her as an angel for me because there’s no telling where I would’ve been because my mindset was not where it needed to be.” 

During the sign unveiling, Griffin’s granddaughter, India Reaves, who is also a teacher, said it feels good to know that her grandmother touched so many people. 

“It’s a beautiful thing because I know what she meant to our family, but it’s even more beautiful to see that we are not the only ones who want to celebrate and keep her legacy alive,” Reaves said. “I’ll never know who led the charge to do this and it doesn’t even matter because that’s just a reminder that she touched so many people.

“Even through her passing she left me with the amazing lesson that grief and celebration can dwell peacefully together because even though we are still grieving, we are celebrating the life, the legacy of Mildred Geraldine Roseboro Griffin.”

During his remarks to the crowd, retired teacher and former Forsyth County Commissioner Fleming El Amin called for the next school that is built in the district be named in honor of Griffin. El-Amin encouraged those in attendance to urge their elected officials to make it happen. 

“We named the Department of Social Services after former Commissioner Walter Marshall, we named the Central Library after Sylvia Sprinkle Hamlin … I think it’s time we name a school building after Mildred Griffin,” El Amin said. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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