Teacher Tuesday: Mrs. James

Mishal Charania , Online editor-in-chief

Courtesy of Mrs. James
CP facilitator Mrs. James(left) with Huron’s other IB coordinators.

Q: What do you do as the Career Program facilitator?

A: “So generally speaking, all of the IB facilitators work with both students and teachers. A lot of my job is about helping the students make the best choice for them about what classes and what programs they want to enter. But the other part of my work is helping the teachers to prepare and deliver the curriculum of the IB middle years, career-related and diploma programs. We basically are also in charge of the teachers’ collaboration so that’s kind of our teaching time to help the teachers make the transition to an IB type of learning. ”


Q: What is your favorite part of being the CP facilitator?

A: “I’ve been coordinating IB programs for 10 years now and the thing that I like the most about that [the Career program] is the way that it’s tied to a career. I like how the program emphasizes the skills, the connection between the academic skills of the diploma program and how they apply in the technical and employment world of the CP student. That’s my very favorite part of that, working with the kids to be able to see how all of the career and academic skills all come together in putting together what it’s like to be a good professional.”


Q: What got you into working with the IB curriculum?

A: “I made that transition in my last district. I was a social studies teacher and I was the social studies department head. I have a master’s in curriculum and teaching and so the part that was most interesting to me at the time was the curriculum development. And so that was how I made the transition to a coordinator so I was the curriculum coordinator for the middle years program and I helped my last school shift all those teachers to moving towards the inquiry focused MYP instruction.”


Q: What would you recommend to students thinking about full DP or CP classes?

A: “The thing that I think is really important is that there isn’t a right answer for everyone. We always talk about that. All the kids want to know ‘what’s going to get me into blank school? What’s going to get me to do blank’ and there isn’t an answer. The answer is that you have to choose what you are going to be successful and the happiest in so that you can show wherever you want to go next the kinds of things that you can do and be successful. That’s my favorite part about Huron, there are so many different ways to do that, I think that anybody can use this programming to be successful. If some kids really want to commit to the full IB diploma or DP classes and all six subject areas and the extended essay and they want to take that route, that’s awesome for them. Whereas if somebody has a career focus they can really develop that along with the academic rigor and deliver to the college or wherever it is they’re looking to go. I also think that it’s really important for the kids to be able to take one or two classes to show colleges that they can be successful in academic rigor with however many classes they want to take. So by taking an AP class and taking DP classes just as a course student, I think that what it allows is it allows everybody to demonstrate to their employers what kind of student they are…I think that the students at Huron are so lucky to be able to have all those choices. Most schools don’t give the kids that much choice.”


Q: Do you have a favorite teaching or IB coordinator moment?

A: “Those are two different things. In my earliest years of teaching, I was involved in a nonprofit school group and we went to Nepal and we spent 18 days building a school with students. That was a phenomenal experience for me, especially as a young teacher. Whenever you start a program, the people that start in those first two years with you are the risk-takers. The seniors entered a program that nobody in the state had ever done. As the coordinator, I spoke to what that experience is going to be like and the students were willing to take that risk with me, Ms. Garret, Ms. Bellows and Mr. Erickson that built that program. They were willing to take that risk with us so seeing them graduate and complete the program is awesome. All of your hard work you get to see happen and this is the third program I’ve started and so I’m really looking forward to that experience… in the future, the word will be out and the program will have a reputation. This program didn’t have a reputation when the seniors joined and to be able to see them complete it with success is so satisfying.


Q: What hobbies do you have outside of your job?

A: “Most of my time is spent getting my kids to their hobbies and their activities. I like to read, I like to sew. I like to run, I’ve always been a runner but I haven’t been in the last year so I am looking forward to getting back into that.”