By Grace Key
Frank Griffen, a social science instructor at East Los Angeles College, is to retire at the end of spring semester. “After 41 years of teaching, it’s time to give it up,” he said.
Coming to ELAC in 1970, Griffen remembers a Caucasian majority school. Griffen’s task was to take the students and show them how to expand their minds and connect to a changing community. “I had to motivate them to understand their new surroundings, the people, the language,” he said.
Using the experience he gained from working with the Los Angeles County Probation Office, Griffen knew he could not give up on a young generation. Having dealt with gangs and the juvenile justice department, he was more aware of the pit falls young people could fall into.
It was Griffen’s duty to educate them despite of some students having closed minds. “I want students to understand it’s not just their neighborhood or government. They need to go beyond that and understand the direction of the world that ultimately changes your direction,” Griffin said.
Griffen enjoyed being able to see many students progress in their educational goals. “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see some students move ahead. It was a rich experience to connect with so many students,” he said.
Griffen admits that he is not going to fade away completely. He plans to stay involved with community issues. He will not stop encouraging youth to go beyond what is, to find what is possible.
“It’s all about what’s in your head; your education. Once you’ve got that, it’s something nobody will ever be able to take from you,” Griffen said.
Griffen’s retirement plans are all the things he wants to do, and some of the things he has to do. His wife, Marion, will be helping him fill up the free time he will have on his hands. “I enjoy cooking and gardening, but it’s time to paint the house,” he said.
“It’s been a real honor to teach at ELAC,” said Griffen. It is hard for him to leave, but he wants students to know that they make the most important choices for themselves. His advice to future students is to “Take advantage of the opportunities you get, because they don’t keep coming.”