Photo of Graham.

I work to ensure that all students are provided with equal opportunities to succeed.

Kriss Kemp-Graham, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

  • Faculty
Educational Leadership

Kriss Kemp-Graham, Ph.D., has taught in higher education for more than a decade. She is currently an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at A&M-Commerce, teaching in the master’s principal preparation program and in the doctoral program with students pursuing advanced degrees in education administration.

Kemp-Graham currently serves as dissertation chair to 14 students. Some of the courses she teaches are multicultural education for administrators, program evaluation and statistics. In addition to teaching, Kemp-Graham is dedicated to serving the university community. She is a member of the university IRB board, a Title IX Level Two Civil Rights Investigator, a member of the university Hearing and Appeals Board, advisory board member for S.E.E.D.S, A&M-Commerce campus advisor for the Theta Nu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and assistant editor of the School Leadership Review journal published by the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration.

Her passion for working with aspiring school leaders and education leadership researchers developed after having worked in the public school system for more than 20 years at the central office and school level. She worked in both Brooklyn, New York, and Newark, New Jersey in very poor schools, always promoting social justice and the importance of culturally responsive schools. She has worked as a third-grade teacher, fifth-grade teacher, Title I Reading Specialist, community development program specialist, 21st Century Community Learning Center director, Whole School Reform supervisor, vice principal, summer school principal and principal. Throughout her career in education, she has worked to ensure that all students were provided with equal opportunities to succeed.

Kemp-Graham has published two books: “Preparing for School Leadership in Texas: Mastering Principal Competencies and Challenges of 21st Century School Leadership,” and “The Elephant in the Room: Urban School Reform” and has authored 26 articles and book chapters. She is currently working on her third book.

Educational Background

Awards and Honors

  • A&M-Commerce CLASS (Collegiate Leading and Student Succeeding) Award, 2020
  • Myrna Milstrap Creativity in Teaching Award, Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education-Commerce Chapter, 2019
  • Faculty Star, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2017
  • Distinguished Global Fellow, , 2017
  • C.W. Leftwich Imagination in Teaching Award, Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education-Commerce Chapter, 2017
  • Professor of the Year, Hunt County African American Leadership Conference, 2015

Research Interests

  • Middle school leadership
  • School leader cultural competence
  • Academic achievement of children in foster care
  • Turnaround schools
  • Urban school leadership
  • Disproportionality in student discipline
  • School push-out of African American girls

Professional Organizations

  • Member, American Education Research Association
  • Member, National Council of Professors in Education Administration
  • Member, Texas Association of Black School Educators
  • Member, Texas Council of Professors in Education Administration
  • Member, Texas Association of Blacks in Higher Education Development

Selected Publications

  • Kemp-Graham, Kriss. Black Girls Matter in the Middle: Administrators’ Perspectives from the Frontline (2019). In K. Brinegar, L. Harrison & E. Hurd (Eds). Equity in the Middle Grades. Information Age Publishing.
  • Jagla, V., Winter, K., Wall, A., Bickmore, D., Rogers Haverback, H., & Kemp-Graham, K. (2018). In S. B. Mertens, M. M. Caskey, P. Bishop, N. Flowers, D. Strahan,D., G. Andrews, & L. Daniel (Eds.). The Handbook of Resources in Middle Level Education: The Middle Level Education Research SIG Research Agenda and Literature Reviews. Information Age Publishing.
  • Kemp-Graham, Kriss (2018). A Closer Look at Urban Schools and Urban Students. In James Vornberg & Wesley Hickey (Eds) Texas Public School Organization and Administration. Kendall Hunt.
  • Kemp-Graham, Kriss (2017). Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Public Schools. Book Review. Journal of Urban Leadership, Teaching and Research.



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