Faces of 501: Dr. Joy Grimes

Dr. Joy Grimes is the principal at Avondale Academy, she is in her fifth year of working for Topeka Public Schools. Avondale Academy is in its first year of existence, and Grimes has worked on the program since its start, calling it one of the “most challenging positions that I have had in education.” In addition to her principal duties, she is a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army, where she serves as a Military Police Battalion Commander. 

“My father, William Grimes, was an educator, working as a teacher, principal and superintendent for schools in Iowa and Kansas, and he served in the military. I really ended up following in his footsteps. There have been many instrumental coaches and teachers in my life that took the time and gave so much to others that I wanted to emulate their humanitarian service. 

“This is my 27th year in the Army, I joined because of patriotic duty and I wanted to see if I was up for the challenge. I’ve been on active duty and deployed to Germany, Iraq, Kosovo, Qatar and had short duty stays in Panama, Italy and Haiti. “There are similarities in both careers, both have structure, high expectations, personal advancement and teamwork. But there are differences too, education allows more flexibility for individual differences and is open for all to experience. The military has less tolerance for failure to comply to the standard and is not for everyone. 

“Both fields are noble, honorable, yet challenging professions. To those students interested in a military career: learn how to take standardized tests. The higher you score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, the more opportunities and choices you will have available. You also want to understand U.S. domestic and foreign policy, as you will be likely become an instrument to carry out that policy. 

“If you are thinking about becoming an educator: Future educators need to understand the hidden challenges behind teaching in a public school, the social and governmental constraints, the complexity of emotional and mental challenges students face all while attempting to develop young minds in a constantly changing environment. This wonderful career takes a creative, intuitive, dedicated and persistent individual that has the courage to keep fighting all the barriers students unknowingly bring to school. It is the most rewarding career that impacts every aspect of our future!”

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