Peter Botsman Award 2022 - out of school category

Dr Kelli McGraw

Before moving to Queensland in 2009, Dr Kelli McGraw was active in the English Teachers Association of New South Wales. When appointed a lecturer in English curriculum at QUT, she joined ETAQ, becoming an active and valuable member, eventually becoming Treasurer before ‘retiring’ from the Management Committee in March 2022.

Kelli joined the Steering Committee for the 2021 AATE/ALEA National Conference to be hosted by Queensland. Due to the pandemic, the conference was held fully online. As co-Chair of the Program Committee, along with Dr Linda Willis, Kelli assembled an impressive line-up of speakers, with an emphasis on Indigenous academics and writers, as well curating an intellectually engaging workshop program. She also organised a space at QUT to serve as our live hub for the duration of the conference.

In addition, Kelli served for several years on the National Council for the Australian Association for Teachers of English, completing her term as the diligent and rigorous editor of English in Australia in 2022.

Kelli has a commitment to innovative English teaching with an emphasis on social justice, and this was evident in the work she undertook as lead writer on the Oxford University Press series, English for Queensland, written to support implementation of a new Senior English curriculum. Through her association with the Queensland Poetry Festival, including as current Vice-President, Kelli has promoted and shared her passion for the value of poetry and the work of local poets.

To keep her university teaching connected to real schools, in 2022, Kelli returned to the classroom one day a week, teaching a Year 10 English class. By all accounts, this has been a joy for her. It is for her teaching, especially at university, that this award was proposed by one of her students. He had this to say about Kelli: 

‘being taught by Dr. Kelli McGraw was instrumental in laying the foundations for a sincere love of English education [...]

While learning from Kelli it was evident that English is more than a career for her. Kelli is passionate in a way that is genuinely undeniable [and] has the ability to take a diverse group of adult learners and help us fall in love with English. Kelli guided us through how to make English fun and how to tailor the curriculum to our strengths. Since graduating university and becoming a teacher, I have found [her] contagious passion to be key to my success in the classroom. The first battle with students is always building engagement. How can we expect high school students to be passionate about English, if the teacher is not the most passionate one in the room?

[...] I greatly appreciate the tools that Kelli gave us as pre-service teachers [...] With these tools I have been able to create lessons that not only teach children, but inspire them to truly engage with English. To put it simply, I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am if it wasn’t for Dr Kelli McGraw.’

Dr Kelli McGraw is a passionate and innovative teacher and advocate for English teaching. She is an inspiring, collaborative colleague and genuinely nice person. For these reasons, she is a deserving winner of the 2022 Peter Botsman Award.

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