We end our mini-series of Master Teachers: Post 2002 with Parthenia Williams’s moving tribute to Christi James. As I was reading these paragraphs this afternoon, Carly Simon’s words, “Nobody does it better” raced through my mind. A relevant line to describe the writer and the recipient. Read on.

“It is August 1988, and there are five new Middle School teachers in what was once the biggest room in the Georgia Nelson Building. The teachers were Lee-Lee Mottern (later, Newcomb), Sharon Rouse, Luayne Chatham, Parthenia Williams and Christi Hinrichs, newly arrived from Cortez, New Mexico. At that time, the Middle School consisted of fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. We were planning the future. Little did we know that . . . Christi. . . would be here twenty=six years later having set her mark on Graland. As Georgia Nelson inspired, Christi Hinrichs, now Christi James, has led, followed, and shared so remarkably over two decades.

“Christi’s career at Graland took off instantly. Because of her natural leadership skills, she was soon appointed the sixth-grade team leader. In this role, she guided her colleagues and students. . . to Cub Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park as well as the kivas of Mesa Verde. From lunchroom duties to tent assignments to collaboration with colleagues and students on what to do in a rain or snowstorm, Christi, calm and collected, thoughtfully and intuitively, led her team to one success after another. . .

“Those of you in this audience whom Senora James has taught know what a special teacher she is. Christi is passionate, innovative, and purposeful. She is the prop queen and can be seen schlepping numerous beautifully woven bags filled with props for her classes. When students enter her classroom. . . they are always welcomed with a warm Buenos Dias. . . Christi always has been at the forefront of technology, from being one of the first to use the SMART Board to incorporating computers and iPads into her daily teaching.

“As you walk into her classroom, you will spy her four metal mice. . . who inspire her own instruction. She has named these mice after three Master Teachers and a dog. Connie Ankelein reminds her to create experiences, Shelley Anderson reminds her to be playful and surprise people, and Ludmila Glasscock reminds her to be patient. The fourth mouse is named after Nancy Priest’s dog, Mogi, who is always ready for adventures. . .

“Servir is the word in Spanish meaning to serve. As Kelly Viseur says, ‘Christi has a mission heart.’ For nearly a decade, she has spearheaded the Service Learning program, a program that remains an exemplar to our fellow ACIS schools. She has inspired teams and students to look beyond the classroom walls and serve the community’ needs. Seventh graders are paired with elder buddies at Sunrise Service Center while first graders write and illustrate bilingual coloring books for children staying in a homeless shelter. In addition, throughout her years at Graland, Christi has served her community of teachers by mentoring Spanish teachers. Five years ago, when the school decided to teach Spanish in kindergarten, she dedicated her time developing a Lower School curriculum. . .

“With her unstoppable drive and ambition, Graland foreign language (instruction in Lower School)and service learning program are in good hands. I close this citation from my daughter Adie, 'Mommy we are so lucky to have Senora James. She is one of my favorite teachers.' Christi, thank you for what you have done for my little one and for all the little and big ones here. Thank you for all the pieces of you have given us since 1988. Welcome to the Wall.”

Graland Country Day School

55 CLERMONT STREET    DENVER, CO 80220    303.399.0390   
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.