May 1, 2017
Faces of Fauquier: Native of Markham stays in school
“There’s a lot going on in the school every day,” says David Graham Jr., Marshall Middle’s principal since 2013.
You have to have a love of kids and want to be a part of what kids do every day. This is a family business. Teachers have a huge impact on kids. I’m always amazed at how many kids come back and visit their teachers.
The Markham native never thought he would return to his old school.
But, David Graham Jr. did just that in 2004, when named assistant principal at Marshall Middle School, formerly Marshall Junior High, where he had studied.
In 2013, Mr. Graham moved up to principal, succeeding veteran educator Christine Moschetti.
He started his career teaching math, science and special education at Fauquier High School in 1990. He also coached football and baseball.
“I used to be a substitute bus driver sometimes” for Markham students, he says. “I got my license so I could drive teams, since I was a coach. I know what bus drivers go through. It’s a tough job, and I have respect for what they do on a daily basis.”
He thought about a career other than education.
Mr. Graham majored in parks administration at Shepherd University.
“I did an internship with (county parks Director) Larry Miller my junior and senior year of college because I thought I wanted to be a park ranger,” Mr. Graham says. “Jobs were tight at the park service back then. But, I had a minor in education, and I said, “Maybe I’ll try it out.’ I never looked back.”
It runs in the family.
Mr. Graham’s father, David, a former professional football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, served as principal at Fauquier High and then Marshall Middle.
“My grandmother taught at the Hume School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school that burned down,” Mr. Graham says.
He thinks living and working in the same community has its benefits.
“As you build relationships with those in the community, it makes a stronger tie with parents, students, the community and the school.”
An advocate for student actives, Mr. Graham also tries to attend all Marshall Middle concerts and sports events.
“It’s busy. There’s a lot going on in the school every day. Sometimes, the days are long and you never know what’s going to happen any given day. You have to be flexible.
“Seeing some student struggle as a sixth-grader, and then seeing them as an eighth grader, mature and ready to go to high school,” ranks among the top benefits of the job, Mr. Graham says. “Any doubts that you’ve had, they’ve squashed them, and you know in some way you had a little something to do with that.”
Mr. Graham reflects on his junior high school years in working with students and helping them succeed.
“I certainly wasn’t working as hard as I could have at this age,” he admits. “I spent time in the office. I was not a model example of a student . . . .
“I can tell kids sometimes when they are in my office, ‘I feel your pain.’ I made plenty of mistakes, too. I learned a lot of lessons from people who believed in me, coached me and helped me. It’s all about helping (students) right the wrong, put the water under the bridge.”
Over the years, Mr. Graham has witnessed significant change.
“Fauquier County has tripled in size I’d say since the 1970s and ’80s, when I was growing up. Marshall had a 7-Eleven and a High’s Ice Cream/convenience store, and that was it.
“If you told me 35 years ago we’d have a strip mall and we could get Chinese, pizza and McDonald’s in Marshall, I’d say you were crazy. To do anything we had to go to Manassas or Winchester. It’s much different, but still very rural and small-town oriented.”
Markham. I live in the house I grew up in.
Marshall Middle School, principal, 2013 to present; assistant principal, 2004-13; math, science, special education teacher 2000-05; Fauquier High School math, science and special education teacher; 1990-2000.
• Why do you do the job?
I think anyone who gets into it, you have to have a love of kids and want to be a part of what kids do every day. This is a family business. Teachers have a huge impact on kids. I’m always amazed at how many kids come back and visit their teachers. They make an impact. We’re here to encourage.
Wife, Mendy, second grade teacher at Coleman Elementary; two sons, David III and Marshall; father, David.
Master’s degree, administration, Shenandoah University, 2004; bachelor’s degree, parks administration, minor in education, Shepherd University, W.Va., 1990; Fauquier High School, 1986; Marshall Junior High; Coleman Elementary.
• Civic and/or church involvement
About 20 years on the Fauquier County Parks and Recreation Board representing Marshall District; member Marshall Community Center Advisory Committee; former Fauquier Habitat for Humanity Board member; former football and baseball coach at Fauquier High; former football coach at Taylor Middle; Leeds Episcopal Church member.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
I was born in Philadelphia. My dad played for the Philadelphia Eagles. But my mother was born here in Fauquier. I came here when I was 5.
• Why do you live here?
My family’s here. Being able to be a part of everything my kids did in elementary school right next door (at Coleman), going to school Thanksgiving meals, field days. You can’t put a price on that. I have two teachers here (at Marshall) who taught me when I was here. They still continue to teach me. I like the small schools, the small community feel.
• How do you describe this county?
Northern Fauquier is still pretty rural. Geographically, 50 percent of the county goes to Marshall Middle and we’re not the largest middle school. That shows you where the density pockets are — Bealeton, Warrenton and New Baltimore. I think it still has a sense of small town, especially in Marshall. People are polite to one another and when things happen, people rally. I like that about our community and schools. People look out for each other. It’s a great place to raise a kid.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I’ve kind of developed with it along the way. I’ve kind of always been here. I think people are working hard, trying to provide opportunities for kids. When I came on the park board, we only had one park, Crockett near Midland. Making sure we keep up with the needs of people. We need to be mindful that we are taking care of everyone, not just kids, but senior citizens.
• What do you do for fun?
Driving my kids to their hobbies, tinkering with things. Restoring my old pickup. I enjoy being outside and taking in the view.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Markham. I grew up fishing, camping, spending time outside and in the mountains. I like the view, the quiet.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I don’t know. I appreciate the beauty of Fauquier County, and I know it’s been an effort to maintain that. At the same time, I’m worried, D.C. and Northern Virginia keep spreading. Hopefully we will be able to develop thoughtfully. We’re kind of in a pocket, surrounded. When we got a Tractor Supply (in Marshall), I thought this is the next best thing since sliced bread. I can buy nails.
• Favorite TV show?
“The Andy Griffith Show.” It’s a classic.
• Favorite movie?
“The Natural” and “Hoosiers.”
• Favorite book?
As a kid, I loved reading “Outdoor Life” magazine, and books by Jack London.
• Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere. I spend a lot of time in West Virginia. I went to college there and fell in love with the state because it reminded me of home. Go to the beaches along the East Coast.
• Favorite food?
There are not many foods I don’t like. A good steak.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
The Golden Rule. Be kind and treat people with respect. You never know what they are going through. I tell kids that all the time. There’s a lot to learn and live by in that statement. A lot of people taught me to be kind, responsive to others in need.
• Who’s your hero and why?
My mom and dad were educators. So many teachers and coaches. Sandra Mitchell and Eileen Burgwyn were my teachers. Roger Lee from LHS was my coach. So many people helped steered me. Jerry Carter was one of my favorite coaches of all time. I’ve been married 25 years, and my wife fought cancer and showed me a lot of her inner strength. I’m very lucky. I’ve had a lot of people help me and look after me.
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
I like being busy, so I don’t think I’d walk away from everything. I’d still work. Share it with my family and do fun things with my kids. Maybe build a dome stadium at Marshall Middle School so we wouldn’t have a rainout again.
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sshrader · May 2, 2017 at 11:14 am
Thank you for this article on David Graham, he is such a great person and principal and it was interesting to learn more about him. My son has been at his school for the last three years and has truly benefited and grown from direct experiences with David, as have I.
Jim Griffin · May 2, 2017 at 8:10 am
A good principal, a terrific person. We are fortunate he leads our teachers, coaches, drivers, staff and students.
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