In the opinion of his peers, Graham Johnson is ‘a once-in-a-lifetime teacher’ who is changing lives of students at Warwick SHS.
He is passionate, committed and takes action.
Now Graham has been recognised as a Secondary Teacher of the Year finalist in the 2018 WA Education Awards. He is also a finalist in the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary Science Teaching, to be announced in October.
Graham said being a Secondary Teacher of the Year finalist was recognition that Warwick was offering its students the best opportunities.
He played a major role in introducing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education, in which the sum of the parts creates an integrated, richer learning experience for students.
“I am just a small part of a very big team and the recognition is as much for everyone else as it is for me,” said the man who has been fronting classrooms for 28 years.
“We got to where we are because everyone is pitching in.”
In nominating Graham for the award, Warwick SHS wrote that his work was “was very much at the heart of transforming Warwick SHS”.
It continued: “STEAM is driving the improvement agenda at Warwick SHS. A cultural shift is occurring at the school and at the heart of this change is Graham Johnson.”
The evidence in numbers is overwhelming. In 2015, there were just 82 enrolments in ATAR STEM courses – now it is 191. The school has also reintroduced the highest level Maths course and increased numbers in Physics and Chemistry courses, while the median ATAR has significantly improved.
But it’s more than a numbers equation. His creative and innovative approach is infectious and other staff quickly become involved in his projects.
This work does not stop with Graham’s own school.
During Science Week (incidentally, that’s next week), Graham and the Science team host about 250 Year 4 to 6 students from East Hamersley, Hawker Park, Greenwood, Marangaroo and Rawlinson primary schools. Graham also initiated the Warwick Primary STEAM Challenge that sees 200 Year 4 students from local primary schools take part in challenges to improve their STEAM skills.