The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America
|Profile – Bruce Griffith||Down Memory Lane||Past AGazines|
AGLOA Tournament Director at the Final Four
Rod Beard, in his first year as National Tournament Director, is a sportswriter for The Detroit News. One of his assignments the last few years has been covering the men’s basketball team of his alma mater, Michigan. That seasonal job lasted the maximum amount of time in the 2012-3 season as the Wolverines reached the NCAA Finals in Atlanta, where they lost a heartbreaker to Louisville, 82-76.
Rod earned induction into the Academic Games Hall of Fame for his career at Bates Academy and Renaissance High in Detroit. He won an Outstanding Senior award in 1991. He started coaching Academic Games just out of high school and has continued to be heavily involved in the Michigan League of Academic Games.
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Profile: Bruce Griffith – II
After Bruce began his career as an engineer, he moved in 2002 with his family to Longmont, CO, north of Denver.
I always had in the back of my mind that I would try to pay it forward, but I hadn’t had the opportunity.
His eldest son was assigned to Gifted & Talented classes in two different elementary schools in the same year in the St. Vrain School District. As Bruce transported his son back and forth, he got to know both teachers and told them how Equations turned him on to math. He convinced them to try a tournament between the two schools. So he taught the teachers and students using games he donated and conducted a tournament involving 13 students.
From that small beginning, the program grew quickly. One of the teachers spoke glowingly to the Gifted & Talented Coordinator about Equations as a supplement to the math curriculum. So the game became an annual part of the GT program with Bruce teaching students in half the elementary schools in the district during his lunch hours. 200 students participated in the 2003 tournament, a 14-fold increase.
Bruce’s dream was for St. Vrain to expand its Academic Games program to other games and send players to Nationals. With that in mind, he came to the 2007 AGLOA National Tournament to determine what he and AGLOA could do to grow the program back home. He returned “all fired up” to get a Nationals team in Colorado.
The new Gifted & Talent Coordinator, Michelle Frey, responded positively to Bruce’s plan and, with the help of donations from Bruce’s company, allocated a budget to expanding the program. Two teachers, Sueellen Cooper and Barb Van Winkle, came to the 2011 Nationals as guest observers and brought their enthusiasm back to Colorado. So Michelle decreed that St. Vrain would send students to the 2012 tournament. AGLOA sent Brother Neal and Heather Davidson to the district during the 2011-2 school year to teach the coaches and judge at the Equations tournament. The district superintendent was so impressed during his visit to the tournament that he promised on the spot to pay teachers for conducting an Academic Games summer camp.
Along the way, the district added Middle Division. Five students qualified in each division for the trip to Oglebay last year. One of the teachers, Jennifer Burke, volunteered to coach the team not only in Equations but also in On-Sets, Propaganda, and Presidents.
As you might expect, the students mainly gained experience, but one player scored 22 in Elementary Equations, the only loss coming to an undefeated opponent. Jennifer and Bruce as well as the students returned to Colorado raring to go for 2013.
Bruce would love to involve adjacent districts in Northern Colorado. He has tracked math test scores and seen significant improvements from proficient to advanced in schools that participated in Equations.
Colorado likes new things, but new things that were tested and proved somewhere else. Academic Games satisfies both those criteria.
St. Vrain will again have five players in Elementary and five in Middle at the 2013 Nationals in Charlotte, including Victor Griffith.
Great job, Bruce! You have indeed “paid it forward.”
Down Memory Lane
Quiz: Which of the following cities has never hosted an AGLOA National Tournament since the organization began in 1992?