Anyone who has attended the Jane Austen Summer Program since 2016 has been treated to the wit and welcome of Patrick "Pat" McGraw. Though Pat stands out as one of the few male attendees, he fits right in as a dedicated reader of Jane Austen. Thanks to the generosity of both Pat and his friends, other teachers will now be able to enjoy JASP as well.
Susan Ford reports that when Pat was unable to attend JASP this year, rather than make a reasonable request for a refund he donated his registration fee to the program. She is pleased to announce that "In recognition of his generosity and long-term support of JASP, some of his friends have decided to honor him by establishing a teacher scholarship in his name."
As Susan Ford notes, "Besides his propensity for paronomasia (he is a diagnosed paronomaniac), Pat is known for his commitment to education." He taught middle school for 21 years at St. George’s Independent School in Memphis, a late-in-life career change after 23 years as a commission salesman. His career change was spurred by a desire to help people. Pictured here in his classroom, Pat's love of education is clear to see.
In addition to his love of learning, Pat possesses a dedication to all things Jane Austen. Susan Ford relates that "Pat’s commitment to the Jane Austen community runs deep: for years he has been an enthusiastic participant in JASP as well as in JASNA (currently serving as regional co-coordinator of JASNA-Central Missouri)."
Pat first attended JASP in 2016. He had met Inger Brodey in October of 2015 at the JASNA Annual General Meeting in Louisville. Inger mentioned that he might enjoy JASP, so he "took Inger at her word and have not looked back."
When asked what drew him to Austen, Pat remarked that "All literature helps us to think--but Austen is especially good at it." He elaborated on the productive challenge of reading Austen:
The reader must always be thinking: is she serious here? ironic? Is she contrasting characters and expects us to notice? In any passage in Austen, she is always doing more than one thing. For instance, in the introduction tp Persuasion, she is obviously developing the character of Sir Walter, with the Barontage being the only book he ever read. But the reader must look closely at the inconsistency of the dates given for his wife's death and her daughters' ages when she died, to realize that Sir Walter is so self-centered he doesn't know when his wife died (though, ironically, he gives the exact month and day).
Pat is clearly an astute student of Austen; how fitting that more teachers will be able to attend JASP in his name.
In its inaugural year, the Patrick McGraw Teacher Scholarship has been awarded to Ashley Honaker of North Carolina Cyber Academy in High Point. This will be Ashely's fourth year at JASP, and her second to participate in JASP+, the focused digital-humanities pedagogy workshop for applicants to the Teacher Scholarship program. Ashley has found the opportunities for professional development at JASP and JASP+ enriching, noting: "I love the opportunities JASP offers to commune with academics, fellow teachers, and Austenites. I think it's such a unique opportunity to read Austen from multiple perspectives - scholar, teacher, fan. I was an inaugural participant in JASP+, so I've only just dipped my toe in the waters of Digital Humanities, but last year I incorporated what I learned in my AP Literature class, giving students more options for presenting their research on new digital platforms."
When asked what drew her to Austen, Ashley relates an enthusiasm similar to Pat's:
I love her wit, her characters, her keen perceptions of human nature. I first read Pride and Prejudice in seventh grade, and I was hooked! A friend gifted me a collection of all six novels (think Grigg from The Jane Austen Book Club), and I ran through them all in high school. Austen led me to a major in English, and I was fortunate enough to take the Jane Austen class with Dr. Thompson at UNC-CH, as well as a summer course in 2017 with Freya Johnston at Oxford University. Since taking the summer course with Freya Johnston, one of the editors of the Oxford University Press edition of Jane Austen's juvenilia, I give my AP Literature students excerpts, and ask them to analyze how Austen's style emerges in these early writings. I want to expand on that lesson, and find new ways to excite them about Austen. I also moved to an online high school this year, so I want to discover new ways to teach Austen in a virtual setting.
Ashley expresses her sense of honor at being the first Patrick McGraw Teacher Scholar, having always appreciated "how welcoming and friendly he is to those new to JASP" as well as "his humor, warmth, and enthusiasm for all things Austen."
Though we will all miss Pat's signature quips this year, we are delighted that he will be with us in spirit. We encourage his well-wishers to comment here to let him know we're thinking of him, especially during this coming week. And if any of you other paronomaniacs are in pun withdrawal, here is a list of literary puns at which even Pat might groan.