Meet Mr. Graham

Meet+Mr.+Graham

Clara Wessells, Staff

Patrick Graham joined the Annie Wright Faculty this year. He teaches Honors US History and Civics in the Upper School for Girls and IB Economics in the Upper School for Boys. Get to know more about Mr. Graham in the interview below.

Inkwell: Where did you grow up?

Graham: I was born and raised in Butler, Pennsylvania, and that is where my heart will always be. We’re home to the Jeep, one of the country’s oldest active Ford dealerships, and at one point the most polluted body of water in the world. It’s a little less than an hour north of Pittsburgh, so to be anything other than a dedicated Steelers/Penguins/Pirates fan just wouldn’t cut it, but I think everyone can be forgiven for forgetting the Pirates. If it hadn’t been for joining the Marines as an Infantry Assaultman, I probably never would have left there either, which would have made my mother a lot happier I’m sure. My family has lived in that area for over 250 years, and I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only ones to venture as far away as I have.

Inkwell: Any fun memories you would like to share?

Graham:  Fun or sentimental, I don’t know, but I enjoyed growing up where I did. Whether it was pickup games of street hockey or hiking in the woods that pretty much surround the entire area, I spent a good amount of time outside when I was a kid. It could have been the lack of technology gluing me to a screen, but there wasn’t much keeping me inside until the weather got cold.

Inkwell: What were you interested in as a teenager? What were you like?

Graham: I was kind of all over the place at times with my interests. I began playing the cello when I was 9 and have loved it ever since. I could say it was always a competition between me and my friend Ruth for first and second chair, but that wouldn’t be true. She had me beat every time. In high school, I was also in our JROTC program because I figured it would help me later on with the Marines. I’ve always loved reading ever since I was a wee kid, with no particular genre. I’ve always loved Hemingway as an author, and the Shahnameh as a book. At the end of the day though, I was focused on work to help reduce the responsibility on my mom and to have some extra spending money, so when school was over I’d usually leave straight for work and not get home until near midnight most days of the week. We’ve got our 20-year high school reunion coming up, and I think I’ll do well flying under the radar since I didn’t spend a lot of time there.

Inkwell: Where did you go to school?

Graham: Besides good old Butler Senior High School I attended the University of California, Davis for my bachelor’s degree, and double majored in Political Science and Middle East/South Asia Studies with an education abroad in Tel Aviv studying the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Growing up I had always viewed college as one of those things for rich or smart people. Ones like me got jobs after school, so I hadn’t put in a great deal of effort, and no one really encouraged me to do otherwise. About 8 years later It took a good woman and a few years in junior college to make up for this view. Applying and going to UC Davis is one of the best things I’ve ever done. When I graduated there in 2011, I worked a bunch of odd jobs, from a city maintenance worker to an outdoor equipment company, while my wife was in Veterinary School. When she graduated, I applied to and attended Columbia University for my master’s degree in Social Studies Education. It was my long-shot school because ain’t no way a Graham is going to get into an Ivy League. I split my time student teaching in the Bronx and Brooklyn, while also scouring the parks for rock climbing areas with a buddy of mine. You’d be surprised how many spots there are in that city to climb, but I was more than happy to leave when I graduated. I’m just not a city type person.

Inkwell: Have you been anywhere fun? If so, what was your favorite location?

Graham: I’ve been to over twenty countries, and some have been more fun or memorable than others. A survival trip in Northern Greenland during the winter wasn’t fun at the time, but now I look back on a bit more positively as something I’d like to do again. My wife and I recently rented a sleeper van in Iceland and spent some time just driving around the island seeing the sites, sleeping wherever we wanted to pull over. I’d been stationed there for a year, but didn’t get a chance to see much of it, so this was by far one of my favorite experiences. Palestine has a particular place in my heart for my own reasons.

Inkwell: How did you decide to join the AWS community?

Graham: We’d been working in central California, but my wife got a job up here leading different conservation projects for US Fish and Wildlife, so when looking for jobs AWS was the first I saw, to be honest. I was super surprised when Ms. Bauska wrote setting up an interview, and during that day, the longer the interview went on, the less chance I thought I had. Which, in a way, I was right because I didn’t get that job at the USB. Instead, Susan offered me my current Social Studies position at the USG, and I couldn’t be happier she did. As for deciding to join the community, I mean, look at the place and talk to the staff and students. How could I not?

Inkwell: What’s your favorite food?

Graham: Oh man, there’s a few. I’m a western Pennsylvanian so any Italian dish will always work for me, and I’ll always say yes to a pierogi or deer (the first day of buck season is an excused day off from school in Butler). Teaching in Soledad so long definitely opened my eyes to elote and cheese tamales. Pierogies or tamales, the store-bought ones just don’t do it anymore. And cake. Cake can be eaten for any meal.

Inkwell: Anything else you’d like to share?

Graham: Hopefully no one will think less of me, but I love mindless, and at times trashy, tv. It doesn’t matter if it is Gossip Girl or the British Love Island, or reruns of Jerry Springer, sometimes I just like to come home, sit down, and just indulge in something with no real plot that is just entertainment. Nothing beats Lord of the Rings though.