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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Kathryn Graham


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Kathryn Graham, senior instructor of English, for her dedication to creating a compassionate, supportive environment for students both inside and outside of the classroom, and for guiding students as they move forward in their academic careers.

Kathryn (Kaye) Graham teaches English 3524 (Literature for Children) and English 3514 (Ethnic Literature for Children), and has offered a special study course on the Harry Potter novels of J.K. Rowling. A proposal for a course on children’s film is in the works. Her scholarship centers on 20th century and contemporary British writers for children. When asked to teach a section of LAHS 1004 (First Year Experience: Introduction to a Research University), she was happy to say yes. Working with the incoming first years meant that she could combine a multitude of her teaching interests, including: introducing students to Virginia Tech as a research university with the help of the university library staff, showing students the myriad resources for their academic success, edifying them about the complex English major with its customized options and tracks, pointing them toward the assistance they can get from Career Services, and endorsing the university's decision to use a Common Book. The Common Book was a project particularly compelling to Kaye. She began serving on the Common Book Committee in 1998 and continued for several years. She has enjoyed generating assignments for the use of Little Princes, the Virginia Tech Common Book for last year and this year, and has shared these assignments with colleagues in the First Year Experience (FYE) endeavor.

Kaye serves as the Coordinator of Undergraduate Advising for the Department of English. She supervises the work of all the advisors, keeping others informed of new developments that may affect students. Associate Chair of the Department of English, Tony Colaianne commented that Kaye “undertakes her work with an incredible degree of energy and with invariably good cheer. Kaye serves as an inspiring role model for the students in her classes and, even more extensively, for all the English majors in our programs. She is the go-to person for all matters advising. She is highly professional and she takes the work of academic advising very seriously. Kaye has high standards and she works industriously to improve our program in any way she can. Her love for the department and its students runs very deep indeed. Kaye takes each case seriously, and she treats all students well and equally.”

Students notice the passionate, supportive nature that Kaye brings to her classroom. One student mentioned that “she has real enthusiasm for her subject. In her words, it's her ideal job. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She balances discussion and lecture well.” Another noted that she “gave wonderful feedback on my papers and exams to help affirm and improve my performance. She was also very helpful in selecting a research paper topic that suited my interests.”

Kathryn Graham was awarded the Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in 2011, as well as the XCaliber Award (English Department e-Portfolio Team) in 2011. In the past, she was given the Joyce Gentry Smoot Award for Outstanding Teaching by an Instructor in both 2000 and 2007, and the Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

It is clear that students also notice the welcoming environment that Kaye creates. One student remarked “[Ms. Graham] fostered open communication and discussion in the classroom; had the class read excellent selections of Children's Literature; was kind and fostered a calm and steady "classroom vibe," so to speak,” while another student stated “she asked thought provoking questions,” as well as provided “an environment of mutual respect.”

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