var str = Shining a Light on . . . Jane Grafton|St. Agnes Academy-St. Dominic School

Shining a Light on . . . Jane Grafton

Shining a Light on . . . Jane Grafton

17 Apr, 2024

Now in her fourth year at SAA-SDS, Jane Grafton brings 21 years of experience to the SAA first grade classroom. She has a calm, positive demeanor, and she is always willing to share her time and talents with other educators. She is a lifelong learner who is excited by new educational research and opportunities. Take a minute to get to know Mrs. Grafton a little better!

What is your educational background?

I received my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (PK-6) from Arkansas State University. I then attended Mississippi State University and obtained my master’s degree, also in Early Childhood Education. Four years ago, I headed back to Arkansas State University and earned my Reading Specialist degree.

Why did you want to become an educator?

I remember coming home from school one day my senior year of high school and telling my parents that I wanted to major in education. I can’t recall my answer when my parents asked why- but I do remember just having the feeling of, ‘yeah, I am going to be a teacher.’ So, I guess you would call that a calling. Deep down I knew that I wanted to make a difference, and what better way is there than to work with children?



What makes the single-gender experience at SAA so effective for learning?

The first thing that comes to mind about single-gender education here at St. Agnes is how we maneuver the social/emotional component of the classroom. We know that girls and boys have different maturity rates, learning styles, and behavioral tolerances. However, those are also evident within the single-gender classroom. I believe with the differences that a classroom can naturally bring, single-gender education seems to provide a firm foundation for forming much needed self-confidence. Self-Confidence, I believe, is at the heart of everything. If I can teach my girls to believe in themselves then the sky's the limit! If self-confidence is secured in the lower school years, then it can be carried with them all the way into upper school.

What are your goals for your first graders and how do you accomplish that?

Well, there are many goals in Room 7. First, I want every girl to feel seen and loved. If they can feel that connection, then anything is possible. Second, I want them to understand that we are all individuals, and to know that everyone learns to do things at different times and that practice makes perfect. Finally, I laugh and tell them that you will use everything you learn in first grade daily in adulthood. They always seem surprised by that. However, it is true-you read, write, add, and subtract almost every day of your adult life.

Your students have shown remarkable growth on their MAP testing this year. What are some ways you have fostered skill development in your students?

Well first and foremost, I have not done it alone. Teamwork has been the name of the game. My girls have worked hard, and we have a wonderful K-3 Learning Specialist, Kate Turner, who designs lessons for our small group time which we call “G3”. My own goal is to look at where each girl is and go from there. I differentiate their reading homework which means their extra practice is geared toward their individual fluency and comprehension. I supplement our English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum with an explicit, systematic, sequential, and multi-sensory phonics program that follows the science of reading.

In class, the girls also read decodable or controlled text that align with spelling features and phonemes that are being or have been taught.  I have also incorporated critical thinking lessons into classwork and homework for math and reading. In math, I aim to make skills relatable, applicable, and transferable.  It is also important to me to be a critical consumer of all curricula and look for gaps, and then research to find quality supplemental material that promotes high order thinking skills.

Are there any things you are involved in right now that you are particularly excited about?

I am thrilled to be a part of the SAA-SDS Curriculum Committee this year. We are working on reviewing our current ELA curriculum and determining if it is still the best fit for our school. With my experience and love for reading instruction, this is very exciting for me. Since there is new research and new curricula based on the Science of Reading (or Structured Literacy) available, our goal is to make sure that we are staying relevant and current in best practices.

Which of the Dominican Pillars-Study, Prayer, Community, Service is supported most by your role here, or which one impacts you the most/means the most to you?

Service, definitely service. Teaching is done in service. However, my service is supported by the other three pillars. I am in constant Study, or professional development. I listen to literacy podcasts, read educational books, and look at recent research to enrich my service to others.  Community is at the heart of everything we do. My service is centered around my community.  Finally, Prayer- wow- that is the biggie that supports my service. I pray for my girls, for the knowledge and discernment to teach and guide them. I pray for our school community, for our leaders, and all who make up our family at SAA-SDS. The beauty of our school can be found in the pillars and how when woven together can be transforming for all who pass through our doors.

What are you most grateful for?

This is a tough one. I guess I feel most grateful for each one of God’s blessings in my life. I have had more than I deserve, and I thank Him every day for them. Family, good health, friends, happiness-those are all neck and neck that I just can’t name one. I have been one lucky girl my whole life, and all of that is due to thanks to God. As my years add up, so does my gratitude.

What are your interests outside of the classroom? What are you particularly passionate about?

I love to read, draw, and travel. I am a National Park geek. I watch Rick Steves (travel writer and tv personality) for fun and dream of traveling to Europe. I love history and all things antique. I love to imagine the stories that antiquities could tell. I am passionate about being a good wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and educator.

Your daughter is a senior and your son is an 8th grader. As they both prepare to graduate from SAA and SDS how do you feel?

Abandoned! Haha! But really, I feel ready-ready for the next steps. St. Agnes has prepared Meredith for her future at Mississippi State. St. Dominic has prepared Campbell for his move to Christian Brothers. So, as I think of our journey thus far, I can’t help but feel grateful. I laugh and say that I have been able to be a ‘silent’ helicopter parent- conveniently teaching where my children attend. But now, I feel at peace knowing that this wonderful institution has prepared them both for their future.

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