Kris Graves, Teacher of the Week

Unity High School Media Center Director Kris Graves poses with some of her students in the school’s library.

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During the fall of 2019, KRIS GRAVES’ role at Unity High School changed from that of a traditional librarian, which she had done for the previous 14 years, to the school’s media center director, where she helped students with homework and organizational skills.

Little did the former business teacher know how important her job would become the following spring, when schools statewide went remote for the rest of the academic year.

“Over the last year and a half, she has been integral in our transition to remote learning, providing our staff the equipment and training that they need to be successful,” Principal Phil Morrison said. “She has also been instrumental in our transition to 1-to-1 this year helping, teaching and preparing both students’ and teachers’ success with their Chromebooks.”

Kris Graves, Media Center Director, Unity High School

Here’s more from Graves.

I find my work important because ... students more than ever need adults in their lives to help guide them. Students have missed out on a lot over the last year and a half, so it is nice to remind them how important soft skills are to be able to be successful at school and in life.

I love to get my hands on an unorganized backpack.

I went into education because ... at first, I really wanted to become an accountant. During my senior year of high school, I worked in an accounting firm and started my college career at EIU as an accounting major.

As I sat in my macroeconomics class one evening, I thought, “Do I really want to work in an office?” Then it dawned on me that I should become a teacher and wanted to pursue it.

Needless to say, accounting was my favorite subject to teach. I am very glad that I made that decision to become a teacher.

My most fulfilling moment on the job is ... seeing students succeed. Just helping them a little goes a long way with them.

If I can motivate them to do better in all aspects of their lives, especially academically and being happy, that’s enough for me. I get excited to see weekly improvements in students’ performance both at school and out.

I’m also passionate about ... just ask my students — my two Boston Terriers. We have a 3-year-old named Dexter and a 1-year-old named Walter. I love taking them places and spoiling them.

When it comes to the most important role models or influences that led me into this career ... I can never really answer this question and pinpoint exact role models. I would say that all of my teachers throughout the years have influenced me in many different ways.

I have also been influenced by my family members that have been in the teaching field over many years.

If I weren’t in education, I ... honestly do not know what I would be doing.

ANTHONY ZILIS

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