At Graland School, Nancy Nye Priest taught pre-primary; second grade; second, third and fourth grade science; fifth grade English, history, science, and math. Years ago, Peter O’Toole remarked concerning a fellow actor, “She is a legend. To protest would be daft.” While Mrs. Priest might protest such legendary status, it would be daft to dispute that. I have already mentioned the Nancy Nye Priest Alumni award in a previous posting.
It is now time for me to take a back seat and introduce you to John Caulkins ‘81 who wrote the following to honor Mrs. Priest at the Master Teachers’ salute in 1998:
“Growing up at Graland, everyone looked forward to fifth grade. That, of course, was the year you would finally have Mrs. Priest for your history teacher.
“We had all seen her around the campus: . . . her size, bright blue eyes, barrette in her pixie-cut hair, that smile and, most of all, that warm energy about her that told you she belonged there. And she was fun! I will never forget how jealous I was the day that my brother, George, brought home his Roman Colosseum. I would later realize that Mrs. Priest could built a Roman Colosseum in the dark.
“Think of the tales she brought to life: Ancient Rome (Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants), Arthur’s Round Table (the Sword in the Stone), or the ancient Anasazi (Mesa Verde in our own backyard).
“She taught us that the past is something to relive, to experience, to let one’s imagination unfold. She knew that a fifth or sixth grader has an even better sense of curiosity than an archaeologist, and just how important it is to kindle the imagination while teaching independence, self-discipline, and respect for others and the environment. Can you imagine a more hands-on approach to learning? In building our Roman museum, making shields for knighting, or identifying Anasazi potsherds, we pushed ourselves to better understand and relive the past.“
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.