Alumni Spotlight: Damon Hargraves '05
Damon Hargraves lives with his family in Kodiak, Alaska. When he is not fishing for halibut or hiking with his kids, Damon can be found at Kodiak Island Borough School District, where he serves as the district's Tech Director.
Damon received his master's in instructional technology from Drury University in 2005. His wife, Heidi Hargraves, also received her master's in education from Drury. Damon has a master's degree in administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a superintendent's certification from the University of Alaska Southeast.
After graduating in 2005, Damon taught for the Bering Strait School District in remote Alaska. Later, he returned to Drury as an adjunct professor. He stayed in the Ozarks for a year and a half, teaching web design and technology courses. Then, Damon and his family moved back to Alaska. He took a job in the Kodiak Island Borough School District, where he has been ever since. “I was heavily involved in technology and instructional technology through different positions in the district. Then, last year I became the Tech Director here.”
Damon ensures that the technology throughout the district is operational. He deals with everything from district wide bandwidth, to assisting with individual classroom projects with kids. The best part of his job is when he gets to work with teachers and principals “to implement technology effectively for student learning.” Damon says. “Technology can be a multiplying factor when implemented well. Working alongside faculty, and being a part of making tech click is hugely rewarding.”
From Teacher to Software Designer
Damon’s master’s degree from Drury helped him receive his current role in the district. “I was always involved with technology and utilizing technology with my students. Then, this past year, that helped me get my director position in the school district.” Damon serves on the board of the Alaska Society for Technology in Education.
For the past two years, he has also partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to create educational software for Response to Intervention (RTI) processes in schools. "I'm a teacher, not a software designer, so that was a cool partnership. Carnegie Mellon is a high-level institute for software development. Designing the software is a really cool thing, and it all traces back to my time at Drury."
Damon's most memorable experience at Drury was teaching at the Missouri Hotel, which was formerly a homeless shelter. One of his professors invited him to teach art lessons there. At the time Damon proclaimed he was not an artist, but this experience stretched him and allowed him to embrace new skills and work with a variety individuals. “I would have never thought to volunteer my time to teach art in a homeless shelter like that, but I did it. I felt like an artist. I trained other people to feel like artists. It was nice to know that that was in me, and being able to work in that kind of setting prepared me to work in some of the schools that I’ve worked in here in Alaska.” This unique experience has helped Damon cross cultural and economic barriers in his career and in the classroom.
"Drury was like a family. I could talk to any of my professors at any time. They had a sincere desire to help me be successful. I have attended other universities, and it is not like that everywhere.”
At Drury, Damon formed close relationships with his professors. Several of his professors even attended his wedding in 2003. He advises current students to make connections with their peers and professors. “It’s easy to not engage or slide through your classes, but you are missing out on the college experience if you are not getting to know your professors. The professors at Drury are happy to talk with you and are interested in your success. I could rattle off name after name of professors who I know. That just doesn’t happen everywhere.”