Graham Dawkins teaches sixth grade at Tarwater Elementary. He has been at Tarwater for three years and has been teaching for eight years since he changed career paths.
“Teaching is a second career,” explains Dawkins, who previously worked in restaurant management. Dawkins says he wishes he had become a teacher earlier in life because it is a job he loves and feels is his calling. His mom was a special education teacher for 25 years and his uncle was also a teacher, “so it was always around me,” says Dawkins.
Dawkins taught a self-contained classroom before moving to Tarwater. He says managing a restaurant and leading a classroom both require building relationships.
“It’s a balance of give and take,” he explains. “If you’re too demanding with employees or students, they’ll tune you out.” But when you take the time to establish a good relationship, Dawkins explains, “the more you can ask of them, and the more you can get out of them.”
“We are so lucky to have Graham. He will always chip in and do whatever necessary,” according to principal Diane Hale. “He also has a magical way with often ‘hard to reach’ kids.”
Dawkins is the faculty sponsor for the school’s math club, and parents notice the extra time he puts in to helping students learn. Parent Kristie Van Engelen nominated Dawkins, and notes that other parents have expressed their appreciation for the support Dawkins gives students and his ability to see their potential.
With students moving back and forth from remote to in-person learning this school year, Dawkins also “spoke to several parents about how their students are doing since being back in person,” Van Engelen writes.
Being back in the classroom can have its hiccups. Dawkins recalls the times in class when students start to take a drink from their water bottle and forget they are wearing a mask!
But a little water aside, Dawkins notes, “All kids are better in person. I’m better in person…but they did well (during remote learning). I’m proud of them.”
In his leisure time, Dawkins enjoys sports and reading about history and politics. He also likes books by author Dan Brown. The Colorado native moved to Arizona several years ago and says he enjoys the warm weather here.