Holly Graham, a College of Education doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture concentration, is a winner of a 2012 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation. A seventh-grade English teacher at JFK Middle School, Northampton, Graham, who is in her first year at the school, was the "overwhelming" choice of her school's nominating committee, according to a Daily Hampshire Gazette article by Barbara Solow.
Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards are given each year to teachers in 40 local districts. Winners, who are nominated by their peers, demonstrate excellence, show enthusiasm and do outreach to their school community. Graham is one of several teachers in Northampton schools who won the awards.
Members of the nominating committee cited Graham’s passion for writing and her skills in data analysis and curriculum development. Graham recently inspired a group of seventh- and eighth-graders to participate in a Boston Globe writing contest where seven JFK students took home gold, silver and honorable mention awards.
Superintendent of Northampton Public School Brian Salzer wrote about Graham in his blog:
“She is an exceptional teacher. She is passionate about teaching English, especially writing, and about working with middle school students. She is energetic, enthusiastic and a great advocate for her students. Her teaching practices include a differentiated approach to instruction and varied assessment methods for measuring student understanding. She collaborates with her colleagues to provide interdisciplinary units for students. Her students were thrilled to hear from the Department of the interior following receipt of their persuasive letters about White Nose Bat Syndrome. Ms. Graham is also an integral member of her department, skilled at data analysis and curriculum development.
Ms. Graham works with students on most afternoons supporting their achievement and interest in writing. Most recently she helped a group of seventh and eighth grade students participate in the Boston Globe Writing Contest. Seven of our students were recognized with gold, silver and honorable mentions. Ms. Graham regularly attends JFK events and has made many connections in the community on behalf of her students. Ms. Graham has already made a difference at JFK with her contributions to her students, team, department, and our community as a whole. She is truly deserving of this honor.”