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Finalist — Keith Graham



He’s transformed and improved school performance, has influenced the education of future teachers across Queensland, is widely consulted on topics of educational leadership, and has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to school sports.

Now, highly respected Rochedale State School Principal Keith Graham has been named a finalist for the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award, for the difference he has made to students, and the educational landscape, across Queensland.

Dr Graham said supporting teachers was central to lifting school performance.

“My belief is that to get the school working the best, make sure that the teachers are engaged. The teachers are the key people. If teachers feel supported, respected, and want to be there, then that passion for their job comes across. That in turn engages children and engages the parents,” he said.

In his previous position at Chatswood State School, Dr Graham lifted staff morale from 74.5 per cent to 96 per cent and increased parent satisfaction from 82 per cent to 96 per cent. Enrolments also increased by about 150 students while he was at the helm.

At Rochedale State School, which was the first state school in Queensland to establish the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme, Dr Graham has worked assiduously on making the school a leader in the international programme.

“Within Queensland I want to help make other schools better too – not just my own. When I go overseas to the IB conferences and take staff, we want to go and contribute a paper and talk,” he says.

Dr Graham has taken colleagues to IB schools in Europe to observe the program in other settings. Hailing from a military family, he travelled across the world as a child, spending time in Gibraltar, the Middle East, and South East Asia. This helps him relate to students who have migrated to Australia.

Mentoring is a key passion of his.

“What I try and tell my teachers, what I try and tell the kids, is, ‘Make a positive difference in the world. Do something, and a million people doing a little thing is far more important than one person trying to do a big thing’,” Dr Graham said.

His doctoral thesis, which explores the connections between principals’ leadership practices and mid-career teachers’ commitment, directly influences his work and is widely recognised in education academic circles. This has resulted in Dr Graham continuing to publish academic articles on related topics, and he is widely consulted for his expertise in educational leadership.

The registered teacher of 30 years is committed to advancing the teaching profession and preparing future generations of teachers. He sits on the Griffith University Teacher Education Industry Advisory Group, has lectured to Queensland University of Technology Master of Education students, and supported a 14-month University of Queensland project involving teachers from Saudi Arabia.

He is currently studying how to further support mid-career teachers who are transitioning to leadership roles and are staying in the profession for the ‘right’ reasons.

“I became a teacher to make a difference to kids. To do something that impacts young lives, to me, is important and noble,” Dr Graham said.

The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.

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