First time candidate John Graham, a recently retired teacher from the Hemet Unified School District, is seeking a seat on the governing board. His wife JoAnn and he own Mountain High Escrow in Idyllwild and Graham said he is hoping to be another voice for Idyllwild on the district board if elected (Bill Sanborn is the Idyllwild board trustee, Graham lives in Hemet).
Graham is a University of Arizona graduate, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. While pursuing his master’s in special education, he worked extensively with learning disabled children, an experience that his infused and influenced his career as a teacher.
“I want to make education relevant to all kids,” said Graham, noting that current curricula are structured to move all students to college eligibility. “Not all students want to go to college,” he observed. Curricula should be developed that prepare students for work in technical, trade and craft professions, he urged.
“Give students the option to pursue what interests them in technical fields, for instance if we could have a program connected with a junior college for building solar panels or other specialized trades.” Graham noted that Riverside County is short of technical workers. “These kinds of programs would give students something to do that they are interested in and in which they could find employment.”
Graham suggested that the kind of testing that is not currently being conducted that would be very beneficial is career diagnostic evaluation — finding out who they are and what actually interests students today. “This way they can buy into their own education, by finding what really interests them.”
Referring to the current college-for-all curriculum approach, Graham said, “The current model is expensive and does not produce a high percentage of students going on to college. If they [students] don’t see education as relevant, then they will get into something else that is often not productive.” Noting that current HAAAT (Hemet Academy for Applied Academics and Technology) and Western Center Academy district charter schools are very successful, Graham said, “That’s exactly what I’m calling for. You have to be able to deliver curriculum to students in ways that they can learn.”
Graham taught for 35 years, most of those years within HUSD — at Hemet Jr. High, West Valley and Tahquitz High, and Diamond Valley Middle School. “I was a resource specialist and taught all core subject classes, in English, math and science.” He believes his years as a teacher will help him focus as a board member on putting resources into the classroom where they benefit students directly. He believes this district, like most, has too many administrative staff with salary levels and retirement packages being awarded at the expense of the classroom experience.
He supports Measure U and Proposition 30 and believes passage of both would best ensure HUSD success and solvency.
Graham said he is impressed by Idyllwild School, its faculty and administration. “The Idyllwild teachers I have known have been superb, and I think Matt Kraemer is doing a great job.”