Kent State Justice Studies Professor In the Department of Sociology Is Honored With Outstanding Teaching Award
A teacher who takes the time to help students grow — both academically and socially — and guide them through academic life is a teacher who has proven to be extraordinarily special in many ways. David Graff, associate lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Kent State University at Tuscarawas, and a former police lieutenant, is one of such teachers. He was honored this year with an Outstanding Teaching Award.
The Outstanding Teaching Award honors exceptional nontenure-track and part-time faculty members at Kent State University. Sponsored by the University Teaching Council, the awards are given every year to three Kent State faculty members for their outstanding achievements in teaching.
“I am very honored to have received the Outstanding Teaching Award because the process begins with the students,” says Graff. “I am proud to have had such an influence on the students. These individuals are very busy with school, family and work activities. Yet, they found the time to describe how a faculty member changed or shaped their lives. It’s not about the recognition, but the ability to reach the students.”
Graff does not believe in a particular teaching style, but does whatever it takes to reach students. He believes it is his responsibility to help students understand different approaches to concepts because not all students learn the same way.
Interjecting humor into the classroom discussions is also an approach Graff uses with his students. His practical experiences as a former police lieutenant provide real-life examples to help solidify students understanding of the police field.
“Mr. Graff has influenced my life in different ways,” says Ryan Fails, criminology major. “He has guided me in my leadership role as president of the Justice Studies Club by helping me organize field trips to correctional facilities and bring in leading corrections officials.”
Graff is very pleased that he has been able to reach students to the degree he has and students’ lives have been altered in a very positive way. Because of the smaller class sizes at Kent State Tuscarawas, Graff is able to get to know his students on a more personal level — to the benefit of the students.
“You realize students are not just a number to you,” says Graff. “The students know I am very approachable and they are not afraid to ask questions or seek additional help, if necessary.”
“Mr. Graff is always willing to work with students on any issues they may have,” says Kyle Kelley, a justice studies major. “He has always attended classes with a positive attitude and is always open for discussion. He has shown me the value of education while in the field of policing, and I have found myself in multiple situations, while on the job, that I can look back and remember what I have learned in my classes and brainstormed how to resolve the situation I was called to handle.”
“Mr. Graff has given me something to shoot for in life and has influenced me in making myself want to help others as well,” says Merri Parker, criminology major. “I only hope to be able to go as far as he has to ensure every student has been given a great education and has learned lessons along the way.”
"He is an unbelievable instructor and one of the main reasons I did not drop out of college,” another student wrote about Graff. “I could not thank him enough for everything he has taught me or helped me with.”
Graff has previously received the Kent State Tuscarawas Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 and was honored with the Graduate Applause recognition.