Kathleen Patricia Graham: Championing Success for Every Student

Year: 2021 — Province: Ontario
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

The Elms Junior Middle School
Grades 3 to 7 - Special Education
Etobicoke, Ontario


“I have had the pleasure of observing how Ms. Graham’s outstanding and innovative teaching practice, inclusive philosophy, and unique learning environment, extra-curricular work and involvement in special projects, have profoundly impacted teaching and learning at our school. She is truly a transformative public education teacher.”


Teaching Approach

Kathleen’s credo is simple, “You have to meet the students where they are”. Her fundamental belief is based on equity and the Universal Design for Learning - a teaching and learning methodology that helps students have an equal opportunity to succeed, with flexibility in how learning is assessed and knowledge is demonstrated. Kathleen firmly believes and has shown that digital platforms are a means to ensure equitable learning, particularly for students who are struggling and who are feeling stigmatized.

In the Classroom

The core of her beliefs is that each student has a unique voice that needs to be expressed and celebrated. Technology is a rich and powerful tool to unlock that voice. One of Kathleen’s many strengths is her ability to foster learning through the use of the most current digital tools. She has introduced school-wide training and implementation of a number of applications that have transformed instructional practices for all classes. For instance, using Snapverter, she was able to convert text and articles into readable PDF documents. This allows students to type into the digitized documents, eliminating the frustration that some students experience with pencil and paper.

Her classroom is a space characterized by inclusion and care – with culturally relevant and responsive resources. Students clearly see themselves reflected in the pedagogical tools like the books and visual tools that constitute the environment. Learning goals and classroom expectations are developed collaboratively with the students making academic achievement a personal ambition.

Kathleen’s approach has been of great benefit in the context of COVID. During the transition to online learning she personalized the digital classroom for her students by posting student writing and artwork to create an environment that actually resembled the classroom.

Outstanding Achievements

Kathleen continues to change the lives of many students with special needs through the remarkable support and care that she brings, based on attention to the individual and their unique circumstances. She has introduced and implemented the Picture Exchange Communication System – an alternative system that uses pictures to communicate ideas and emotions to others. This support brings tremendous benefits to her students.

Making the world a better place is what drives Kathleen’s efforts – both in the classroom and in the community. Her deep passion for fostering global citizenship is rooted in her commitment to equity and social justice. One of her initiatives is a collaboration with a major home improvement chain to re-green spaces around the school. This not only supports the environmental objectives of the school but generates unique experiences for many of the students who do not have access to green spaces, not to mention opportunities to get involved in community activities.

Get in touch!

The Elms Junior Middle School
45 Golfdown Drive
Etobicoke, ON  M9W 2H8
Email: TheElms@tdsb.on.ca
Twitter: @tdsb_TheElmsJMS