Alyssa Graham Named National City Middle Teacher of the Year

Alyssa Graham Named National City Middle Teacher of the Year

Alyssa Graham Named National City Middle Teacher of the Year
Alyssa Graham NCM Teacher of the Year

Alyssa Grahams colleagues and students at National City Middle School aren’t surprised to find out she was named Teacher of the Year representing the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD). As a former student at the campus she currently teaches seventh grade English, Graham feels “very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach there and essentially give back to the community she grew up in, by preparing students for the future.”

Currently in her tenth year of teaching in the Sweetwater District, Graham says she was inspired to pursue a career in education because she wanted to take on the challenge of working with different, developing personalities and make learning accessible and interesting. In addition, she says she was also inspired to specifically become a middle school teacher because of her former English teacher who she is fortunate to have now as a colleague and mentor.

Students in Grahams class have shared testimonials of why they enjoy having her as a teacher, primarily because “she teaches English in a way that students understand, and she is very candid with them and listens to them.”

When asked what inspires her to do her best Graham says she is motivated by her students and colleagues. “The best way to keep my students focused and active participants in my class is through engaging them in meaningful lessons,” said Graham. “I am fortunate to work with some really great teachers and they push me to do my best every day I go into work.”

Over the years Graham has implemented Social Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques in her teaching and she believes they have equipped her to be a better teacher. “SEL is about teaching from the heart to teach the mind” said Graham. “It’s a vital aspect of education that students need to see in the classroom.”

The Teacher of the Year Program is one of the oldest, most prestigious honors program that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching. Each year, five to six teachers are selected to represent the Sweetwater District in the annual Salute to Teachers Gala organized by the San Diego County Office of Education and Cox Communications. Later this year, the selected teachers will go on to compete amongst their counterparts in other districts across San Diego County, as a top five teacher of the year.

When asked what advice she would give to new teachers joining the “calling” Graham said, “It’s ok to try and fail, but never fail to try.” She advises teachers to try new things in their classrooms, continue learning from others, try connecting to that student who shows disinterest in your class and to remember that every mistake or fail is a learning and growing opportunity.

When Graham is not teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and scrapbooking. As she reflects on being selected as Teacher of the Year representing the Sweetwater District, Graham says she wants to be remembered as the teacher who was fair, relatable and encouraged students to be good citizens.

Congratulations Alyssa Graham, National City Teacher of the Year!