Roy G. Biv

This week, second graders worked with prisms to learn how white light is refracted to produce a rainbow.  On a bright day, students were able to “make” their own rainbows using rectangular prisms in our outdoor science lab.

When light passes through a prism, the light bends. As a result, the different colors that make up white light become separated. This happens because each color has a particular wavelength and each wavelength bends at a different angle. The colors that appear are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (the colors of the rainbow- “Roy G. Biv”)!

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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Greg Jackson

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I teach : High school and Middle school instrumental music

I've Taught for: 10 years at Alabama State University, 23 years privately, and currently in my 2nd year at Saint James School

Hometown: Clarksville, TN (born in Des Moines, IA)

High school: Northeast High School, Clarksville, TN

College/Degree: Austin Peay State University/BS Music Composition & Performance, The University of Alabama/MM Music Composition/Theory, The University of Alabama/DMA Performance
STJ Extracurricular: Band

Favorite Book: The Art of War

Favorite Movie: The Godfather

Favorite Food: Meat!

Married to: Autumn Jackson (Señora Jackson, STJ Spanish Teacher)

Church: Frazer, and many others I perform at when called

Fun Fact: I was invited to compete for the first ever Team USA F3N (radio controlled freestyle aerobic helicopters) in World Championship in Poland.

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Happy National School Counseling Week!

Happy National School Counseling Week! Saint James School is privileged to have an incredible counseling staff across all levels, Pre-K3 through 12th grade. Our fantastic counselors are an integral part of our school culture and community.

Ms. Clare Simon has been a counselor for 35 years and at Saint James School for 25.  She has a masters in counseling and is a certified LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor.  
Ms. Cherie Meadows, middle school counselor, is current serving in her fourth year. She became a school counselor through training as a clergy person.  Ms. Meadows holds a masters degree is in Religious Education and is ordained minister.

Ms. June Garzon and Mrs. Jamie Payne make up our high school counseling team. Students have the privilege of getting to know his or her counselor all four years of high school. Ms. Garzon and Mrs. Payne learn the talents and individual strengths of their students and assist them with everything from building class schedules, coordinating college tours, and scholarship applications. Ms. Garzon has been high school counselor for four years and hold a masters in Educational Administration with a focus on Private School Education from Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, NY. Ms. Payne is in her second year as high school counselor at STJ and holds both MBA and M.Ed in School Counseling. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor.

Many of our administrators have also served in counseling roles at Saint James. Our current middle school principal, Ms. Laura Spivey, served as a counselor for fourteen years (eight in middle school and four in high school). She brings her years as counselor into her everyday role as principal. The unique experiences in the counseling office translate in many ways and provide Ms. Spivey with a special perspective as she serves the middle school. Mrs. Susan Atkins, Academic Dean, also served as counselor for the high school for many years. Likewise, our own Ms. Cathy Pearson, Dean of Admission, served as middle school counselor for 20 years and has a masters degree in counseling and human development.

Each of our counselors is dedicated to student success; strengthening our students’ physical, emotional, and mental health is paramount to Saint James School’s mission.

June Garzon and Jamie Payne, High School Counselors

June Garzon and Jamie Payne, High School Counselors

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Clare Simon, Elementary School Counselor

Clare Simon, Elementary School Counselor

My absolute favorite part of my job is the students!  Having the privilege of watching them grow and develop is an honor and I love getting to know their families.  Morning carpool always starts my day off right.  Another aspect of my job that is a delight is seeing the students learn to problem-solve and create their own solutions to conflicts.  I love to see them take our guidance lessons and put them to work.
— Clare Simon, Elementary Counselor
Cherie Meadows, Middle School Counselor

Cherie Meadows, Middle School Counselor

My favorite thing about being a counselor at STJ is working with parents and students to help each student achieve the most optimal academic achievements, social integration, and emotional health.
— June Garzon, High School Counselor

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pH lab... anything but basic!

Last week, Mrs. Whigham’s Advanced 8th grade physical science class learned all about acids, bases, and pH levels. Students made hypotheses about what household items would be the most acidic and basic. Items like lemon juice, vinegar, hand sanitizer, bottled water, baking soda, and milk were tested and recorded in lab journals.

At STJ, it is important that students make connections between their lessons and labs in the classroom with real-world applications.  The very same concepts that they used in lab today are being used world-wide to save lives and the planet.  Currently, environmental engineers are researching water remediation or water treatment projects; understanding the chemical properties (including pH) of contaminants is important for safeguarding the health of environmental water sources and systems.

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I like labs because they are entertaining. We learn more in-depth. We get to use cool tools like hot plates, electric balances, and spectroscope tubes.
— Grady Johnson, 8th grade

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Students also studied the environmental correlation with pH levels. “The pH of different liquids and solutions, particularly the pH of bodies of water, are important in describing the behavior of different minerals and chemicals. For example, with increasing acidic pH values, water begins to cause harm and destruction of ecosystems and minerals, such as dissolving the calcium carbonate shells of mollusks, or making ecosystems unlivable for plants and animals,” said Mrs. Whigham. Relating lab experiments to everyday life and the world around us makes the classes more fun. The tools and equipment are especially fun.

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Faculty Spotlight: Mrs. Patti Pelham

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I teach: Elementary Visual Art, grades K3-5

I've Taught for: 14years

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

High school: Saint James School. Go Trojans!

College/Degree: Auburn University, BFA. AUM, M. Ed.

Favorite Movie: The Black Stallion

Favorite Food: Home grown veggies

Married to: Nicholas Pelham

Children: Bonner age 6, Clurin age 4

Church: Pleasant Valley UMC in Jones, AL

Fun Fact: I have always had a passion for Horses, we currently have 3. Finch, Pete, and Dusty. I hope to one day spend a summer Trail riding across the Rocky Mountains.

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Sunlight and Shadows

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This week, 3rd grade studied the movement of our planet. The students spent time investigating how the Earth rotates. Students learned that the Earth rotates on its axis and although it may look like the sun is moving across our sky, this is actually an illusion created by the Earth’s rotation.

On a sunny day, students ventured outside three different times to trace their shadows and see how they move and change. They measured the movements and recorded their findings to compare how much the shadows rotated during the day. Hands-on activities like this allow students to not only grasp science concepts, but apply them to everyday life.

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Muñeco De Nieve

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Ms. Browning’s PreK3 class had a blast with Señora Jackson’s Spanish lesson this week. Students learned how to say “snowman” in Spanish along with body parts and some of his articles of clothing.  The children sang songs to reinforce vocabulary and practiced saying the words as they decorated their very own "Muñeco De Nieve.” The boys and girls really enjoyed eating his "cuerpo” aka “body!"

All elementary students, PreK3-5th grade, visit Spanish enrichment once a week as part of their weekly enrichment rotations. Global languages like Spanish are incorporated into our school-wide curriculum throughout all grades.

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Faculty Spotlight: Mr. Benji Martin

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I teach: Library- Elementary school

I've Taught for: 8 years

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL

High school: Open Door Christian School

College/Degree: B.A. in English, University of Alabama, 2006. MLIS in Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama, 2010

STJ Extracurricular: I teach ukulele lessons to elementary and middle school students after school!

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Favorite Book: Charlotte's Web

Favorite Food: Mexican

Married to: Ashley Martin

Children: 1 boy: Harper, and 3 girls: Emrist, Mabel, & Theodora

Church: Church of the Highlands- Montgomery

Fun Fact: I am a kid lit blogger. You can find me here. Also, I recently finished up a two year term on the Association for Library Service to Children's Notable Children's Books Committee, which required tons of reading and was pretty time consuming, especially with a newborn in our life. It was a lot fun, though, and very rewarding.

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100 days of learning!

Today, we celebrate our 100th day of school! Our PreK3, PreK4, and Kindergarten classes have been participating in fun actives to commemorate the occasion. Students made self-portraits of their 100-year-old selves, counted to 100, decorated shirts with 100 objects, read stories about the number zero, and celebrated “Zero the Hero” on his big day. Our PreK4 classes dressed up as 100-year-olds! Our teachers even joined in on the fun.

We are thankful to be 100 days smarter!

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Faculty Spotlight: Mrs. Shelaine Taylor

I teach: Elementary science lab for grades PreK3 through 5th grade - I love seeing all the elementary students each week!

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I've Taught for: 15 years total (5 years at Saint James)

Hometown: Columbus, MS

High school: New Hope High School in Columbus, MS - Go Trojans! (our colors were black and gold though).

College/Degree: Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, MS - BS in Elementary Education (K-8), University of Great Falls in Great Falls, MT - Master of Arts in Teaching, Auburn University - Educational Specialist in Administration of Elementary and Secondary Education, Auburn University - Currently a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in Administration of Supervision and Curriculum

STJ Extracurricular: I lead the 5th grade Junior Master Gardener's after-school program and also serve on the Performing Arts Guild board.

Favorite Book: My current favorite is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Favorite Movie: It's a Wonderful Life

Favorite Food: Mexican of any kind!

Married to: Todd Taylor for 23 years and counting

Children: Ella who is a tenth grader and Davis who is an eighth grader, both at Saint James.

Church: First Assembly of God

Fun Fact: I taught fifth grade at the International School of Islamabad in Pakistan when my husband was stationed at the US embassy there.

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#WeAreSaintJamesSchool

Shark Tank: The Gilded Age

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Juniors in Ms. Hughes’s U.S. History class are currently studying the Gilded Age. They recently participated in “Gilded Age Shark Tank” based on the ABC hit program. Students were assigned to groups and given a Gilded Age invention which included Coca-Cola, the lightbulb and the phonograph. Students researched their invention while they prepared their presentations for the “sharks.” They had three minutes to try and convince the sharks, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, to invest in their product. The hardest part of the assignment was not using modern references. How do you describe a lightbulb? Students had to describe the actual bulb but then also describe how it was used and why it was better than candles or oil lamps. They realized how hard it was pitch a product and learned more about their individual inventions. Group projects like this allow students to use real-world application of what they learn in the classroom.

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“A noun is a person, place, or thing!”

The digital dice were rolling in Mrs. Greene’s class, as fifth grade students worked hard to get a noun Tic-Tac-Toe.  Plural nouns were the object of the game and for every roll, student’s got a chance to cross off a square on the board.  

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Incorporating play into learning is a wonderful way to promote creativity and imagination. Hands on works builds cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Tic-Tac-Toe...three in a row WINS!

Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Cathy Pearson

Saint James School class of 1976.

Saint James School class of 1976.

Position: Dean of Admissions

I've Taught for: I have worked in the field of education for over 39 years. I was a math Teacher for 7 years, (3 at STJ), a Middle School Counselor for 20 years, a Middle School principal for 6 years, and currently serving at Dean of Admissions in my 6th year.

Hometown: Union Springs, AL but moved to Montgomery in High School

High school: STJ 1976-the third graduating class of the school! Go Trojans!

College/Degree: BS Degree in Education from the University of South Alabama in 1980 and a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling and Human Development from Troy State University in Montgomery in 1987

Favorite Book and Favorite Movie: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Favorite Food: Guacamole, Pizza and Hamburgers

Married to: Joel Pearson (STJ Alum '76). We were high school sweethearts.

Children: Nan (STJ '06-lives in Atlanta) and Hartley (STJ '08- lives in Colorado)

Church: First United Methodist Church

Fun Fact:  I'm currently planning my daughter's wedding which will be in Myrtle Beach this June. I also love Alabama Football. Roll Tide!

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Junior Ambassador for a Day!

Two prospective families had a special treat during their recent visit to Saint James. Seventh grader Reilly Taylor and fourth grader Easton Selbee assisted the admissions office by serving as “junior ambassadors” for a day. Reilly and Easton spent some time in the office learning a bit about what goes on behind the scenes in admissions. Then, they helped Ms. Kate Bartlett, Associate Dean of Admissions, give a tour of campus. It was so fun for both families to hear the unique perspective of our current Trojans and for our students to share their experiences with our guests. After a wonderful tour, our junior ambassadors enjoyed a lunch with our staff and STJ Student Ambassadors. The STJ Student Ambassadors are high school juniors and seniors who serve as leaders at Saint James School. These students were selected after a competitive application and interview process- we can’t wait for both Reilly and Easton to apply when they become upperclassmen!

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Reilly Taylor, STJ 7th grader, with our Associate Dean of Admissions, Kate Bartlett

Reilly Taylor, STJ 7th grader, with our Associate Dean of Admissions, Kate Bartlett

Easton Selbee, STJ 4th grader, with our Associate Dean of Admissions, Kate Bartlett

Easton Selbee, STJ 4th grader, with our Associate Dean of Admissions, Kate Bartlett

An “INK-redible” day in the Science Lab!

A fishy smell filled the science lab as Ms. Taylor, elementary science lab teacher, prepared squid for dissection.  Fourth graders were eager to “dive in” and learn more about the squid’s anatomy as well as document their study in an app called Book Creator.    

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Students took pictures of each step and drew on paper with the squid’s ink.  Ben Hooks, STJ 4th grader, said, “It was really interesting to see what was inside the squid and feel how squishy it was.” The science lab gives students hands-on experiences that enhance their classroom learning.  

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Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Kate Bartlett

Position: Associate Dean of Admissions

At STJ for: 2.5 years. Worked in higher education for 6 years previously

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Hometown: I am an Army brat (born in Kansas and lived in Louisiana, Florida, Germany, Kentucky, and three cities in Georgia), but I claim Newnan, GA as my hometown

High school: Northgate High School

College/Degree: B.A. in Public Relations from Auburn University, Master of Liberal Arts in English from AUM

STJ Extracurricular: STJ Ambassadors sponsor and contributor to this blog

Favorite Book: Anything by Pat Conroy (but I studied literature so basically everything)

Favorite Movie: The Devil Wears Prada

Favorite Food: Thai food!  We traveled to Ko Samui, Thailand for our honeymoon.

Married to: Jack for 7 years. We met my junior year at Auburn. He is a Montgomery boy, so we moved here after we married in 2011. He is a pharmaceutical rep and loves to paddle board and crossfit.

Children: One daughter, Frances. She is 2.5 and will be at STJ for Pre-K in 2019. We are also expecting our second daughter February 2019.

Church: First United Methodist Church of Montgomery

Fun Fact: I was a flight attendant right after college. I can pour a diet coke at 40,000 feet exactly to the top without fizz going over the side. Very specialized skills!

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Get the blood pumping!

Last week, fifth grade performed a lab where they witnessed the circulatory system in action. Students placed live goldfish in Petri dishes and looked at their tails under the microscope. They were able to see blood circulating through the fish’s tail in real time. After the lab, the goldfish were released to the pond in our outdoor laboratory space. All elementary students, Pre-K3 through 5th grade, visit the science lab weekly for hands-on application of what is being taught in the classroom. Disclaimer: no fish are harmed during this experiment.

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5th graders use a microscope to view the circulatory system of a goldfish. Students are exposed to traditional laboratory tools and perform hands-on experiments weekly in the elementary science lab.    #WeAreSaintJamesSchool

5th graders use a microscope to view the circulatory system of a goldfish. Students are exposed to traditional laboratory tools and perform hands-on experiments weekly in the elementary science lab.

#WeAreSaintJamesSchool

Frittatas, and Salsa, and Treats, Oh My!

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I love cooking club! It is fun to expand my palette
— Virginia Braswell, sophomore
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STJ Cooking Club, lead by English and journalism teacher, Dr. Catherine Winn, meets during high school advisory period bi-weekly. Dr. Winn focuses on using real, fresh ingredients. Students create tasty meals, appetizers, and desserts.

I want to empower my students to feed themselves and others. Food is universal.
— Dr. Catherine Winn, Cooking Club advisor
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Quick Broccoli and Egg Frittata

  • cooking spray

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tbsp cottage cheese

  • 2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese 

  • 1/3 cup finely diced broccoli

  • 2 tbs cooked breakfast sausage

  • a pinch each of salt, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg 

Lightly spray the inside of a coffee mug with cooking spray and crack the eggs into the mug. Scramble. Add the other ingredients and stir until combined. Microwave on high for 30 seconds then stir. Microwave for 30 seconds more and stir again or until eggs are fully set. Enjoy! ( 200-300 calories depending on variation, with 19- 21 grams of protein per mug)

I joined cooking club because I thought it would be fun... and so when I go to college I won’t live off Ramen!
— Alexander McHorne, junior

Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Laura Hassell

Position: Admissions Counselor

At STJ for: Almost 3 years

Hometown: Montgomery, AL

High school: Saint James School, class of 1998! Go Trojans!

College/Degree: University of Alabama/Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, Minor in Art History

Extracurricular: House flipping, gardening, painting

Favorite Movie: The Wizard of Oz

Favorite Food: Mexican, Tiramisu

Married to: Lee Hassell

Children: Michael is in the 4th grade and loves baseball and basketball. Hunter is in the 1st grade and loves soccer and art.

Fun Fact: My husband, Lee, and I both graduated in the same class at STJ. We started dating junior year of college and have been together ever since!

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