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Sandwiched between the current playground and the Georgia Nelson building is a bronze statue of a little girl reading her book, a book whose first line is, “Once Upon a Time.” Many of you have probably passed the statue and wondered about its significance.

To the old-timers and students past, the statue is a reminder of one of my favorite master teachers, Connie Ankelein. In October 1999, Graland held a party in honor of Connie Ankelein at which time we celebrated a lady for whom reading and teaching remained one of the delights of her life. The statue is named Nancy in Connie’s honor -- Nancy was her name, but everyone knew her as Connie.

So, if you have not spent some moments admiring the statue, I ask you to do that. Bring a book, perhaps a suitable children’s book, sit on the grass, read, and think of Connie who inspired Jennifer Pock’ 94 to become an educator. “I wanted to be just like her. I knew from the time I was in second grade I wanted to be a teacher. Mrs. A gave a tremendous amount of time and energy to me. She took me under her wing and taught me to read. She had an amazing impact on me. She was hands down the single greatest influence in my life, next to my parents.”

Here is an excerpt written by Helen Boyd and Margaret Akolt, two of Connie’s dearest friends:

“ . . Connie taught second grade, mentored new teachers, served on countless committees, and in the process has become a Graland icon. Connie created the first Graland “plane ride” to Senegal, coordinated the first Japanese festival, was the first Lower School representative on the department chairs’ committee and was the first to bring the “writing process” to Graland."

Even though the Humphreys’ building currently houses four of ECLC classrooms, I still think of it as Connie’s place, her home for more than twenty years. Connie was a Southern lady who defined that moniker and graced our presence with her wit, her heart, and her smile.

Graland Country Day School

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.