Sitting on the sidelines isn’t for Kris James
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Saturday, 14 September 2013 07:29
NORTHWOOD - Kris James likes teaching and being involved in extracurricular activities.
|Kris James cheers along with the crowd during the Northwood vs Lake football game. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
She also enjoys building relationships with her students even more.
James is in her 25th year as a teacher at Northwood High School and it's hard to find an activity or club she hasn't been involved with.
"What's cool about teaching is not just the content, it's the kids and the relationship I have been able to develop with the kids outside the classroom," said James, who is in her third year as the school's librarian and media specialist.
James taught English for 22 years before that.
"The relationship you have with them is what this is all about," James said. "When I can move away from evaluating them, when the formality is removed and I can be myself, that's really fun.
I don't think I would serve my students very well if all I did was know them as the person sitting in a desk."
James is in her 12th year as the yearbook adviser. She also is the senior class adviser, teaches a Media Literacy class and a theme studies class (an elective English class), mentors two new teachers and serves on the school's licensing committee. The licensing committee makes sure the school's teachers are properly licensed.
"I'm a better teacher because I do the other stuff," James said. "Students are more receptive because I do the other stuff. It's about preparing them for life."
But James probably is most visible on Friday nights when she's on the sidelines keeping statistics for and cheering on the Rangers' football team.
Her husband, Ken, is in his 28th season as the team's head football coach. She's been doing the stats for 27 seasons.
"The game is so much more fun doing the stats," said James, who is helped with the stats by Kelley Wills and Liz Kohring. "I feel so much more apart of the game than I did when I was sitting in the stands. The game looks funny from the stands now."
James started doing the stats during her husband's second season at Northwood because she didn't like the negativity from the fans in the stands directed at the coaching staff during a 1-9 record in his first season at the school.
James added she didn't deal well with criticism from the fans during her husband's final season as an assistant coach at Lima Central Catholic.
"It was frustrating and I said I need a job, something to do during the games, so that I'm not up there in the middle of all that negativity," James said. "I just elbowed my way in and said I'm going to do the stats and it's worked out."
James has always liked football and the sport has become a family affair.
Son Nate is in his fourth season as a varsity assistant and son Ben is in his first season as an varsity assistant. Daughter Chelsea is the team's manager and also has started helping the team's trainer.
"Our weekend is football," said James, whose father, Earl, still calls her every Saturday morning to learn the details of the previous night's game. Her parents live in Gettysburg, Pa., and they try to attend one game every year.
"Football is a part of who we are," James said. "I enjoy it as much as I ever have. It's not quite the same as when the kids were playing, but it's still very much a family activity. We all go out together after the game."
James also has served as Northwood's assistant director for the musical, student council adviser, junior class adviser and quiz bowl adviser.
"She's a great resource for the staff … and the kids will go to her for help," Northwood principal Jason Kozina said. "She's always willing to help. She'll do anything you ask of her."
James still enjoys the school and the Northwood community.
"Northwood is such a small, homy place. If I don't know a kid's name, I'll still recognize their face. I like that. It's really cool to be walking into the elementary school and seeing the kids and even the grandkids of kids I taught in high school.
"Because it's small here, I feel like we see more of what we've done than if we had gone someplace bigger or we had done the bounce around, a couple years here, a couple years there. I might have helped this kid or that kid, but because we've been so focused here, we feel we've had more of an impact."
Kris and her husband will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in July. The James' met at Bluffton University.
"The community has impacted us, too, in a positive way," she said. "When the kids were little, they belonged to the school and they're better people for that. This place is our home."