For almost two decades, Joseph Griffin Meridian has been leading schools to provide students with quality education and opportunities for overall development.
Prior to becoming an educator and a high school principal, Joe attended Coahoma Community College and Belhaven University where he became an honor English graduate. During that time, he maintained an academic and athletic scholarship as he played for the college basketball team.
To further improve his capacity as a future educator and leader, he pursued a master’s degree in Secondary Education at Delta State University followed by a Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi.
After that, Joe began establishing his career by teaching English to junior and senior high school students and coaching sports teams. In 2002, he joined Coahoma County Junior/Senior High School where he taught students and trained athletes in football, track, and basketball.
During his time there, he guided the young players to win the state championship, making school history. From there, he realized that he can do more as a leader. After three years, he moved to Senatobia Junior/Senior High School and continued to dedicate his time as a teacher and sports coach.
By 2007, he held his first leadership position at Jonestown Elementary School. As a Lead Teacher, he initiated programs that promote discipline and after-school tutorials.
The following year, he started forging his path to becoming a school administrator by becoming Heidelberg High School’s Assistant Principal for a year before serving as the Principal for the next two years. His leadership at Heidelberg was so significant that he was able to help the school achieve a 60-point growth in the span of three years.
Furthermore, he continued to lead high school institutions successfully during the next couple of years. From 2011 until 2020, he served Pointe Coupee Central High School, West Bolivar High School, Amanda Elzy High School, and Moss Point High School.
Simultaneous with his service to the high schools, he continued to teach as an Adjunct Professor in college. From 2014 to 2016, he taught Health at Mississippi Valley State University and English at his alma mater, Coahoma Community College.
As an educator, Joe Griffin believes that it is his responsibility to ensure that students are provided with the necessary resources and opportunities they need to be successful. Thus, he focused implementing programs and curriculum aimed at improving academic performance and promoting overall student development.
In addition to that, due to successfully increasing test scores at West Bolivar High School, he was featured on the October 2015 issue of Larry Bell’s workshop brochure.
At present, Joe Griffin is the Principal of Meridian High School (MHS) in Meridian, Mississippi. Aside from that, he also works as an Adjunct Professor for English at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Outside a fruitful career, Joe continues to look for ways to serve his community. Through the years, he has been consistently supporting non-governmental organizations such as Salvation Army and some local care stations.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I was inspired by my parents who are both educators. But another huge reason that brought me here is my background in sports. I coached and played most of my life. Then I realized that it was my job to help kids become better at their craft. From there, I started teaching English to high school students and coaching aspiring young athletes.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start my day at 4 am. I have a morning ritual. I give thanks for another great day and begin reading, writing or listening to a podcast by a personal development guru.
A productive day begins with taking care of myself physically and mentally so that I can be an effective leader and teacher. It’s important to first develop yourself so that you can help others on a daily basis.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always have ideas, but I am careful about which ones I bring to life. If you have too many of them, it can become counterproductive.
Once I choose an idea, my next step is figuring out how to make it happen. Sometimes they happen seamlessly and other times there’s a learning curve involved. It all depends on the idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The trend that excites me is the overall heightened awareness of students and their educational needs. It seems like everywhere you look, there’s a group of people aiming to make a difference in education for all students. This is encouraging because it shows that our society is making progress.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My most productive habits in this space include my morning routine. I focus on my mental and physical state so that when I get to work, I can be the leader and teacher that students—and employers—need me to be.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give my younger self is to be patient and the benefits will come. It’s not about how fast you can get there, but rather all of the experiences you have on the way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is this idea that we should always take the first opportunity presented to us, but I disagree. That’s like leaving your favorite seat on the bus to stand up and walk around because someone else got off. You may miss out on something even better later on down the line. It takes a certain level of mindfulness and discipline to understand when it’s best to stay seated and when it’s best to get up and walk around.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
That one habit I recommend everyone else does is to take breaks.
These days, we’re bombarded with nonstop information and there’s a lot of pressure to be on top of our game at all times. We can’t let distractions prevent us from resting and rejuvenating so that we stay sharp and focused while working towards our goals.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped me grow my work as an educator is to lead by example.
I work alongside the students, teachers and staff so that others understand how much I care about their success. If they see me hustling just like they are, then they will hopefully follow suit in return.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I would say the biggest failure I had as an entrepreneur was when I tried to do too many things at once.
It’s easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done, but it’s important to remember that some projects need more time than others. That failure turned into one of my greatest lessons because I learned about discipline and patience.
Once I made the decision to focus on improving education, I was able to establish Meridian High School as an institution with an innovative educational model based on research and student needs.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One business idea I am willing to give away is the idea of creative collaboration.
There are so many smart people out there with great ideas, but they may not know how to make it happen without help or some extra motivation. I believe the key to success is building a team that compliments each other and creates value for everyone involved.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently were on books.
I believe that they are a great investment that will help me become a more informed educator with research skills that are essential to my profession.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
One piece of software that helps me be productive is Google Drive. It’s a great place to store everything from lesson plans to documents so you can access them anywhere and collaborate with others in real time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The book that I recommend to my community is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
It’s written by Carol Dweck, a great psychology professor at Stanford University. She talks about the fixed vs. growth mindset and how important it is for all of us to have a growth mindset if we want to improve as individuals and organizations.
What is your favorite quote?
“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” – Chinese Proverb
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.