Honoring ECMS administrators

Kem Griffin, Debbie Bolden, Toya McMillian

Principal Debbie Bolden

Teacher, sixth grade

After a 30- year career in many areas of public education, Ms. Deborah Bolden has come home to Atmore. This choice was a huge gift to our community, as Ms. Bolden took on the challenge of sitting at the helm of Escambia County Middle School as its principal.

Since June of 2016 when Bolden took on her new role at ECMS, she has shown her students, staff, faculty, parents, and the community that she is a true leader. Although today, October 16, 2017 may be considered Boss’s Day, that title simply does not fit Ms. Bolden. She is a true LEADER. She uses the knowledge gained from prior experiences and studies in higher education to lead a staff with grace and goodwill. She is a very focused, regimented and detailed person with a plan for almost anything.

Student growth toward meeting the highest possible standard is her goal and one she has spread throughout the school. We do this by having each student be successful in each grade level. The target of having students prepared to do their best in the next grade remains a constant focus. Ingrained in every staff member and student is the knowledge that all are capable of being College or Career Ready when they leave our schools. In order to do this, Bolden focuses on providing intense professional development for teachers, has high standards for instruction and is a constant in every classroom observing student engagement and outstanding teaching.

Bolden is also an excellent planner. She works tirelessly to develop the faculty, community, parents and students to be an active voice in every aspect of ECMS. Our last parent conference night was one of the largest in many years. This has prompted Bolden and the leadership team to develop more nights such as these. Watch out for upcoming learning opportunities for all. Budget planning is another area of strength. Since Bolden has been at ECMS, she has surveyed staff and students and has begun to fill deficits in areas of technology, library equipment, robotics and other much-needed instructional materials. Through a committee with teacher, parent and community input the financial plan supports us all. The plan is completely transparent and visible in every classroom and lab.

Because of Bolden’s attention to detail and being regimented in all areas, a sense of accountability is present in all staff and students, with all being accountable for his/her own actions. Everyone knows what the expectations are at ECMS and follow Bolden’s model to be the best every day. Doing it right the first time is ingrained in all on campus, however, when it’s not done right the first time, we all know to go back and do it again. We believe that students should not be punished for things they do not know, but do expect them to do what they know is right. This includes every aspect of our day – morning breakfast, walking to assigned areas, having correct uniforms, making the BEST possible grades and following all school rules, especially when no one is watching.

Bolden’s use of the “we” approach has helped the staff become closer and highly focused on the overall goal of supporting student growth in all areas. She generates enthusiasm by walking side by side with students, parents, and faculty. Bolden never asks anyone to do anything she is not willing to do herself. One piece of evidence that her car is on campus before daylight and most nights still here after dusk.

Ms. Deborah Bolden has used her sharp focus, planning, and regimented leadership style to make Escambia County Middle School a place where LEARNING is the top priority. This may seem like an obvious goal; however, without the best leadership and support it is often not the case. With her vision and coaching spirit, Bolden has led ECMS to reach standards and growth not seen in many years. “Happy Leaders’ Day, Ms. Bolden!” We all look forward to what is to come.


Assistant Principal Toya McMillian

Teacher, seventh grade

Whenever you think of our seventh- and eighth-grade leader, several words come to mind: spiritual, determination, high expectations, professionalism, nurturing, loving, and ability to overcome all obstacles. These are just a few words that describe the leadership qualities shown by Escambia County Middle School’s Assistant Principal, Mrs. Toya Bullard McMillian.

Mrs. McMillian acknowledges and shows a love for God in everything that she does. Her primary goal is for all students to be able to learn in a safe environment and succeed to their highest potential.

Her actions often speak louder than words, but her approach to caring for students is something that renders most people speechless as she shows love and affection for all she comes in contact with.

Mrs. McMillian is known to calm any situation with her sweet, soothing voice and her calm demeanor. She strives to make every child, faculty, and parent feel equally a part of the Escambia County Middle School family. No matter what type of day Mrs. McMillian is having, you will never see her without a smile on her face. She greets everyone with a “good morning” and always ends our day with a “have a great afternoon.”

It is the small things that always add up to a bigger message portrayed by Mrs. McMillian. Everyone matters with Mrs. McMillian and there are no BIG I’s or LITTLE U’s in her book. Mrs. McMillian goes above and beyond the call of duty each day to help her students and faculty have the best experience possible. She often shares her imperfect road to success with the students and how everyone can overcome obstacles, persevere through roadblocks, and achieve their goals in life if “they can think it, believe it, and achieve it.”

Failure is not an option for our students with Mrs. McMillian. She reminds the students daily of why they are here and of the end result: their high school diploma. After serving 12 years in the classroom in Monroe County and 5 years in Escambia County as an administrator, Mrs. McMillian has a wealth of knowledge that she shares with the faculty on a daily basis and she teaches us that great leaders never forget what it was like to be a teacher and great teachers never forget what it was like to be a student.

As Escambia County Middle School pushes towards higher goals and expectations, the guidance from Mrs. Toya Bullard McMillian is definitely leaving a big impact and lasting impression on our next generation of leaders.


Assistant Principal Kem Griffin

Teacher, sixth grade

A supervisor
. . . a counselor.
. . . a problem solver.
. . . an advisor.
. . . an inspirational leader.

The above is just a small list of titles our assistant principal Kem Griffin holds. Our AP wears many hats throughout the school year and during the summer months when the students are away.

While Mrs. Griffin balances all her roles, she plays an active role in supporting instruction and concentrating on our students’ academic achievement. Kem Griffin is a little lady with BIG leadership skills.

Mrs. Griffin’s amazing guidance stems from her experience in the classroom and her knowledge of the importance of the overall well-being of our students. Prior to stepping into the leadership position at Escambia County Middle School, Mrs. Griffin served as a school counselor in Mobile County.

Her ability to change from principal mode to counselor mode is remarkable. Whether Mrs. Griffin is advising her teachers or counseling our students, she takes pride in meticulously assessing all situations to ensure success.

Mrs. Griffin works extremely hard to lead all of us in striving for our main goal: Growth.

We are so thankful to have her … She truly is a breath of fresh air.

“A great principal builds character, inspires dreams, encourages creativity, builds confidence, instills a love of learning, touches our hearts, and changes our lives forever.”