MNPS Voices: Marquenta Grimes

MNPS Voices: Marquenta Grimes
Posted on 03/26/2021

Marquenta Grimes started her career as a substitute teacher for Metro Nashville Public Schools more than 17 years ago. She has served as a permanent substitute teacher at Jere Baxter Middle School for 10 years and Bailey Middle School for one year in the library.

“I loved going to different schools and being responsible for helping students by following the instructions that the teachers left behind,” Grimes said.

Grimes would eventually land the paraprofessional assistant educator position at DuPont Hadley Middle School, where she has been a proud Bulldog for the past six years. She had to make some adjustments from overseeing the classroom to being the assistant in the room.

“The teacher is in charge of the classroom, but we are a team, so I’m good with that,” she said.

Some of her classroom duties include working with students in small groups, assisting students with schoolwork, conflict resolution between students, and accompanying the teacher in every way possible to produce successful outcomes for students. Grimes also assists with the cheerleaders at DuPont Hadley.

Due to middle schoolers being in a virtual setting, Grimes has not been able to make physical contact with students like she has in previous school years, but she is enjoying the school’s Navigator program, which has allowed her to personally perform check-ins on more than 40 virtual families once a week. Since school is both in person and virtual now, she checks in on roughly 20 families every two weeks.

“We were charged with staying in touch with our students and families through email, phone calls, and text messages just to make sure they were physically and emotionally okay,” Grimes said.

The Navigator program has been able to assist families in need with food and clothing as well as counseling. Grimes, who is a Nashville native, attended Metro Schools from elementary school through high school, when she attended Nashville School of the Arts.  

Upon graduation from MNPS, Grimes had big dreams for her future. She attended Western Kentucky University, where she studied communications with the goal of becoming a news anchor on a local news stations in Nashville. She quickly pivoted from that idea and enrolled at Tennessee State University, where she studied criminal justice with hopes of pursuing a career in law enforcement, particularly as a detective with Metro Nashville Police Department. She graduated in 2006 and discovered that as a wife and mother with small children, law enforcement was not the best career choice at the time.

Instead, Grimes channeled what was naturally a part of her upbringing and redirected herself into a career that she is comfortable with and has grown to love.

“Growing up, my grandmother and mother would foster children, so I think watching them help children gave me the desire to also want to help children,” she said. 

She is a natural nourisher and encourager to students and co-workers, so it was not a surprise when kindness was reciprocated to her when she was diagnosed with cancer in July 2020. Following Grimes’ diagnosis, she had surgery – but not before the faculty and staff performed a drive-by at her home to wish her well.

Even through her chemotherapy treatments, she has managed to log on to see and support her students every day. “I have to keep coming to work, it takes my mind off of it,” Grimes said. 

Dr. Kevin Armstrong, principal at DuPont Hadley Middle School, had this to say about Grimes and her journey.

“Mrs. Grimes epitomizes what it means to not look like what you've been through. She has battled cancer with such a positive spirit, grace, and style. Her faith shines through anything that she may be going through. We are the fortunate ones to have her on our campus working with our young leaders."   

Grimes is planning to start radiation treatments soon but says her goal is to continue to show up for work and give it 100 percent every day until she retires in a few years.

Grimes, who is no stranger to perseverance, also enjoys healthy in-school team competition as well.

“Our students, faculty, and staff are assigned to ‘house’ teams, and since we’re the Bulldogs, we are different packs and my team is the Alapaha-Yellow team,” Grimes said.  

The teams have various models and codes they follow, and as each team achieves its goals, whether in academics or behavior, they gain points. Grimes’ team won first place during the first semester and is on track to win again in this final semester of the school year.

When Grimes is not participating in school activities, she enjoys playing games with her family, leading the youth ministry at church, dancing, singing, and taking walks.

Archive News