Caitie Graham had her “aha” moment in high school while she was tutoring a fifth grade boy; she wanted to become a teacher. She tutored on and off for eight years, received her undergrad and master’s from University of Missouri, substituted and taught for a few years before ending up in Bondurant. This is her first year in the Bondurant school district. She teaches third grade at Anderson Elementary.
Graham is a hands-on teacher. She believes it is important to teach her students “real world stuff.” She offers her class a “Classroom Community Bank.” Students can earn “Graham Bucks” to purchase items, such as candy, or they can even have lunch with the teacher. A few students put their money together to purchase lunch for the whole class. They learn how to fill out order forms as well as deposit slips.
“I think it’s important to show the kids to enjoy what they’re doing,” Graham says. She teaches her students how to learn the concept, and not just memorize it.
“Grades are never final; they are just where they are,” she says. She says it’s so rewarding when her students finally get something, and they smile.
Graham’s does everything in class from a farmers market to speeches to writing and a how-to demo. When her students work hard, she offers brain breaks to break up the monotony of the day. This may include a song or a YouTube clip.
“Bondurant is really supportive,” she says. “The third grade team is amazing, and the parents are really supportive as well.” Graham says that communication is key with the parents.
When asked what kids should be doing over the summer, Graham says, “It’s important kids are practicing their math, reading, getting plenty of Vitamin D, and just be a kid.”