‘Teacher of the Week’ recognized for going above to meet students’ needs

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — During the pandemic, teachers have provided a sense a stability and connectedness for many students, and we found one that really stands out.

With less than a month before the end of the school year, Laura Graham wants to ensure her students at Topsail Elementary School, or “friends” as she calls them, are ready for fourth grade.

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In a ‘Teacher of the Week’ nomination WWAY received, a parent told us that Graham “loves each child like her own” and “she puts all of her energy in helping her kids thrive, event in this crazy year.”

Recently, we visited the school to recognize her.

“I was very, very surprised,” she said. “I choked up a little bit, it something I was not expecting, so thank you.”

Graham attended college in her native country, Colombia, and later earned a Master’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Now in her nineteenth year of teaching, Graham has taught at Topsail Elementary for the last two years.

“I want to be the teacher for my students that I want for my own personal children,” Graham said.

Principal Melissa Wilson says Graham’s ability to connect with students and parents is one of the many attributes that makes her a great teacher.

“Her ability to go completely above and beyond to do whatever it takes and then just her relationship and communication are truly outstanding,” said Wilson. “She just does whatever it takes to meet her student’s needs.”

Meeting students’ needs this school year has been anything but normal.

“Mrs. Graham actually always kids around that she’s never done pandemic teaching and the students and the students have never done pandemic learning,” Graham said. “So, this is new for all of us but we are going to figure it out and make it work.”

For Graham, making it work requires having the right frame of mind.

“Every single teacher in North Carolina I can tell you aims to make every year the best year yet,” she said. “This year is not only the best year yet, but the most epic, yet. So, it is a matter of mindset, my mindset affects my students’ mindset.”

With four weeks to go before the final day of school and the start of summer vacation, Graham says it’s a little bittersweet.

“You have spent 10 months with this group of children in the four walls of a classroom,” she said. “You have developed a relationship with these children and these families, so letting them go is always very difficult.”

We asked her — how it feels to be ‘Teacher of the Week’?

“I am honored, I am really happy,” she said. “I think when things are unexpected and you get something nice like this, you feel validated and I am really appreciative of you and what you do for teachers in the Cape Fear region and thank you so much.”

If you know a great teacher, click here to send us a nomination. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card.