June 29, 2021
A graduate of Shawnee State University, life has come full circle in many ways for alumnus Andy Graffis. Receiving his Intervention Specialist degree in 2008, Graffis furthered his career into education administration, and now serves as a Principal in his hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio at Southeastern High School. Celebrating his thirteenth year in education, Graffis works with a large number of individuals each day.
“I think it’s special because I know how important Southeastern was to me growing up, which you usually realize afterwards,” said Graffis. “I feel like those students similar to me are the ones I can help guide no matter what path they choose. I just hope that whatever their dream is, I can help.”
Although Graffis enjoyed being in the classroom setting as an Intervention Specialist, he has been able to find new benefits in his administrative role as Principal that help make the career rewarding in many ways. He knows in his role he can leave a lasting impression on more than just the students within his classroom walls.
“I think, as opposed to being in the classroom, I have access to almost 300 students throughout the school instead of just sixteen,” he said. “I had a lot of the kids when I taught eighth grade, so I was familiar with the juniors and seniors already, but I like the fact that I can go up to a random student and just ask them how their day is going. It could be going really good or bad, but I’m there to help if needed.”
Although at SSU he did not start out pursuing a degree as an Intervention Specialist, he quickly realized he wanted a major that he could focus in and feel more engaged.
“I originally decided to look into the Intervention Specialist degree because of that one-on-one interaction you can get with students and the small group settings,” he said. “I think that was natural for me, and I went out on a limb to try it and never looked back.”
A career in education ended up being exactly what Graffis was looking for even if he did not know it at the time of enrolling at SSU. Now he is thankful for the impact he gets to make on his students every day.
“The main thing is to just make sure I’m listening to all my students,” he said. “They all have a story and those stories are all different.”
This spotlight is part of an ongoing series by the SSU Alumni Association in celebration of the university’s 35 Years milestone. To learn more about alumni making a difference in their careers, visit shawneestatealumni.com for more features.