Meet Kevin Griffin and Tung Nguyen

Assistant Principal Kevin Griffin Kevin Griffin grew up in the Grand Rapids area. He’s been a big University of Michigan fan since birth. He earned a bachelor’s degree in science at Adrian College and a master’s degree in education leadership from the American College of Education.

He previously taught at Chicago Public Schools’ landmark Wendell Phillips Academy High School, a predominantly African-American school whose famous graduates include singers Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke, entrepreneur George E. Johnson, and basketball players who formed the nucleus of the original Harlem Globetrotters.

Griffin joined Wendell Phillips Academy as its glory days were fading. Poor student achievement led to its designation as a “turn-around” school.  Chicago Public Schools brought in the nonprofit Academy of Urban Leadership to run the school. New administration and staff received special training in how to relate to challenging urban youth, and many instructional reforms were introduced.

As a math and science teacher at Wendell Phillips Academy, Griffin says he saw how much more engaged students were when they could learn content by doing projects. One of his students favorite projects was to build scale models of working roller coasters.

Griffin’s experience with project-based learning will serve him well as an instructional leader at Holland High, which plans to move toward that model.

Griffin coached track and field and Science Olympiad at Wendell Phillips Academy. He says he’d like to continue to have that type of contact with students in Holland, if his administrative commitments allow.

Griffin says students, parents and staff quickly made him feel welcome at Holland High. He says he hopes to promote parental involvement, which often wanes as students enter their teens. He also wants to increase reading support for English Language Learners.

When he’s not in school, you’re most likely to spot Griffin outdoors. He enjoys boating, hiking, camping and golf.

Griffin lives with his wife Angela, a registered nurse.

Assistant Principal Tung NguyenTung Nguyen (pronounced Tune Win) was just six years old when he immigrated with his family to Holland, Mich., from Saigon, Vietnam, after a temporary stay in the Philippines.

Moving 15,000 miles achieved the political freedoms that parents Thanh and Dinh Nguyen sought, but Tung remembers the transition being difficult for the whole family.

He says he grew up in Holland hoping that he’d never have to move a long distance again.

So far, so good. 

He’s embraced educational and employment opportunities in West Michigan and says he hopes to never leave.

Tung Nguyen, is in his second year as an assistant principal at Holland High School. He is also the director of Holland Virtual Tech, an online credit recovery school nestled into the high school media center that typically enrolls about 100 students.

Nguyen graduated in 2004 from neighboring West Ottawa High School with aspirations of becoming a math teacher. He was selected by Hope College for the seventh wave of Project TEACH, an incentive scholarship program geared toward helping minority students earn teaching degrees.

Goal of the program is that many of those new teachers would choose to stay local, fortifying the ranks of minority teachers in West Michigan.

Nguyen, whose major was math and minor was Spanish, taught middle school math in West Ottawa and Kalamazoo public schools after graduating from Hope College. In 2010, he accepted a math teaching position at Holland Public School’s VR Tech, a precursor of Holland Virtual Tech.

Having subsequently earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University, Nguyen was tapped by Superintendent Brian Davis to replace retiring VR Tech Director Paula deRoos midway through the 2014-2015 academic year. 

When that program became Holland Virtual Tech and moved into Holland High School the following year, Nguyen continued as director plus became an assistant principal. There are 1,400 students at Holland High, and Nguyen is the administrator assigned to help students whose last names begin with letters in the bottom third of the alphabet.

“I look at leadership as a call to serve,” Nguyen said. “It can be challenging to be an administrator at two schools, even if they’re under one roof. Fortunately, Holland Virtual has some of the best staff you’ll find anywhere. The professionals on the ground do the work. My job, as I see it, is to make sure that teachers, students and parents in both schools have what they need to be the best they can be.”

At Holland Virtual Tech, Nguyen oversees two full-time and two part-time teachers, as well as four part-time lab assistants.

Nguyen said he is dedicated to promoting a positive climate and culture at the school. He seeks ways to provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills and make meaningful contributions to decisions that involve the school.

Nguyen loves being outdoors and participating in team sports. In October 2016, he married fiancée Sarah DeGraw.

Email is the best way to reach Nguyen. His email address is tnguyen@hollandpublicschools.org. He may also be reached via telephone by calling Holland High’s main phone number, (616) 494-2200.