Computer science teacher Mr. Thomas Graham enters profession after 19 years in IT


In C4 Aug. 23, computer science teacher Mr. Thomas Graham guides his third period Computer Science II students through a note-taking and visual learning session on data types. Photo by Alyssa Folmer.

Previously working with computers and telecommunications for over 19 years of his life, Mr. Thomas Graham worked and lived in a very busy and complicated world full of operational tasks with software applications and computer hardware components. Today, Graham is now pursuing a teaching career in the computer science field; a big step away from what he is familiar with but nothing short of what he had envisioned.

Teaching in a computer-filled classroom was just up Graham’s alley in which he found that teaching and working with groups of high school students was similar to working with businesses in Information Technology.

[I worked for] Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Esurance, Adventist Health and Allworth Financial,” Graham said. “I’ll say [working with students is] totally different [than IT], but totally the same.”

After retiring from his career in IT, Graham decided to seek more out of his life. At the time, Graham’s friends and close relatives had modeled what being a teacher was like after he had become interested in a teaching position. 

“I was working at home during the pandemic and realized I wanted more out of life,” Graham said. “Several of my most favorite people are [and] were teachers, so that had a big impact on me. I had a very successful IT career, so I was fortunate enough to be able to afford changing careers.”

In the mornings before school and times out of his classroom, Graham enjoys listening to music after taking a break from it for several years due to it feeling like a never ending chore.

“I love almost every style of music,” Graham said. “However, there was a time when I needed a break from it. I was in a band and we were recording and playing often and it became a chore, so I stopped listening to almost all music for a couple of years. Music is my favorite form of expression and it’s pretty crazy to realize how ingrained music is into every culture.”

Graham says it is hard to choose a favorite band and song as he enjoys several types of music and artists.

“It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if I was told I could only listen to U2, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Metallica, the Beatles and Mozart, I would probably get by,” Graham said.

Making an impact on his students is what Graham aspires to do throughout the school year and the several years to come. Graham says he aspires to educate himself more on the CTE program and different pathways that come with it. 

“I [originally] wanted to teach at Whitney because of the CTE program and because I live so close,” Graham said. “I want to make an impact in the community where I live. I want computer science to be a class that is not intimidating for everyone, while building the foundations for the rest of the program.”

Students like Tanvi Das say she is excited to have him as her teacher for the new school year. 

“I am super excited to see what new things he brings and [I think] he is super fun and has great [teaching] activities,” Das said. 

As he has gained three weeks of teaching experience in a physical classroom, Graham says he is still adjusting to being a first-year teacher but knows that being in the position he is in is the right fit. 

“I’m still taking [everything] in,” Graham said. “One thing that [I have] learned so far is that there are many students that are excited to learn about computer science, which is super cool, [and] I’m excited to be a part of building Whitney HS’s computer science program. We’re going to do big things! The hardest part so far has been working around the blocked sites list.”

As Graham progresses in the computer science field, he also wishes to allow certain changes and additions to the course itself.

Graham said, “I hope to expand the AP courses to include [AP Computer Science A] as well as clubs and other team events.”