2008 - 2014
In 2008, Dee Miller was appointed Interim Head of School, and Head of School in January of 2009. In her own words: "I love St. James! My children are graduates, my grandsons are current students, and it was my home away from home for 34 years." After teaching music in the Dallas ISD, Dee joined St. James as music teacher in 1980. By 1983 she was working toward her Master's degree at TAMU-T - and becoming enamored with computers! She was encouraged to initiate the St. James computer program that year. After teaching both computer and music until 1989, Ms. Miller officially switched keyboards, serving as Technology Coordinator and computer teacher until 2000. In 2000, Dee was appointed the first Assistant Head of School for St. James, but continued to coordinate the technology program. Having spent 11 years developing our state-of-the-art technology program with an outstanding computer curriculum, that program continues to be near and dear to her heart.
As Head of School, Ms. Miller continued to oversee the entire curriculum for St. James - researching, studying, aligning, and directing the updating of any area of the curriculum as that becomes necessary. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in pipe organ from The University of Texas-Austin and a Master of Science degree with a specialty in Computer Education from Texas A&M-T. For many years, Ms. Miller served as Adjunct Faculty at the University, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses in computer programming and education, and was honored by TAMU-T with their Distinguished Alumni Award for innovative work in computers in education during this time.
While researching her Master's Thesis, The Use of Computers as an Alternative Method of Musical Instruction, she was invited with Dr. Jean Porter to present two papers at one of the first M.I.T. computer conferences for education. Later, she was one of three educators in the U.S. selected to participate in a summer computer fellowship at the University of Virginia. Ms. Miller served as a presenter at many state and national computer conferences as well as being guest speaker at local conferences. Her love of writing offered opportunities to publish numerous articles and software reviews regarding computers in education for publications of Scholastic, Inc. In 1996, the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) honored her at the annual conference in Austin with my selection as one of the top three teachers in the state of Texas.
Dee's three children are all St. James graduates: Bill (SJDS '83) is an honor graduate of Texas High ('89), Vanderbilt University ('93), and Texas Tech School of Law ('96). Bill is married to the former Jessica Johnson, also a graduate of Vanderbilt University and a St. James teacher. They are parents of two St. James alums and and one 2nd generation St. James student: 16-year-old Davis (a 2013 graduate of SJDS), 13 year old Austin ('16), and 10 year old Mason.
Daughter Julie (SJDS '85) is also a Texas High honor graduate and a graduate of Vanderbilt University ('95) and the University of Georgia ('00). She earned her Master of Landscape Architecture degree with Honors from the University of Georgia and served as a Teaching Assistant in the School of Environmental Design. Julie and husband, Silas Mathes, a graduate of Duke University live in Nashville, Tennessee and are parents to three granddaughters, 12-year-old Greta Laurel, 10-year-old Clara Caroline, and baby sister, Mollie Rosemary, 5.
Greg (SJDS '89), a Texas High honor graduate ('95), and a 2000 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is now art director for Inferno Creative, a Memphis, TN. advertising firm, and a recent ADDY winner for the firm. Greg is married to Amy Tyler, also a UT grad in the School of Advertising. Their children are Meagan Lee Havins Miller, 8, and Savannah Caroline, 6. Both girls attend St. Mary's Episcopal School in Memphis.
Although Ms. Miller served students in many capacities during her thirty-four years at St. James, she became the Head at a crisis period in the School's history. During her six years as Head of School, and with the help of a supportive Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff, St. James doubled it's enrollment and its reputation as an academy of educational excellence was restored. Ms. Miller retired knowing that St. James would not only survive, but would continue to produce the exceptional students and leaders as it has for the past sixty-six years.
Ms. Miller's retirement summer coincided with her celebration of 25 years of marriage to John Greer, a local attorney and long-time supporter of St. James School.
The continuing existence, success, and growth of the School is both a tribute to the founders' vision, the dedicated love and service of its longtime teachers, and witness to Texarkana's need for a school dedicated to excellence in education within a Christian setting.
St. James welcomed new headmistress Mary Nell Short in 2000. Ms. Short carried on the innovative leadership of her predecessor as we moved into the 21st century. Mary Nell understood the need to bring education out of the industrial age and into the information age; She encouraged and supported the movement in both the country and our school for training teachers to teach with 21st century technology tools. Under her leadership, teachers worked hard to achieve the state and national standards required of every classroom teacher to teach with technology. Ms. Short promoted the continuous upgrading and alignment of all areas of curriculum, and was not too proud to teach a class when needed.
The faculty knew Mary Nell was always supportive of, and encouraged, innovative ideas in teaching and ongoing professional development for every teacher. St. James parents, students, and staff were sad to bid farewell to Ms. Short in May of 2004. Mary Nell now uses her expertise in education serving as Director of Christian Education at St. James Episcopal Church.
Audrey Russell came to St. James from Houma, Louisana and served as Interim Head of School from August of 2004 until her appointment as Head of School in 2005. Ms. Russell has a long history of Episcopal school experience, having served as Head of the Lower School at St. Francis Episcopal School in Houston, Head of School at Trinity in Victoria, and Head of School in Houma, LA. Mrs. Russell now serves as Head of School at Christ Episcopal School in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Nancy L. Russell began her duties as Headmistress with the 1987-88 school year.
Once again, the growing student body of St. James Day School experienced a need for new facilities on campus, and once again, an overwhelmingly supportive group of parents, Board of Trustees, and Faculty found the ways and means to fulfill the need under the outstanding leadership of Headmistress Nancy Russell. In 1991, a new cafeteria and two new Kindergarten classrooms were added to the front of the gym, and the existing Lower School remodeled to accommodate two additional classrooms for grades 1 and 2.
1995 saw the completion of the first phase of the Shared Visions I building program as a brand new Lower School was completed adjacent to the cafeteria/kindergarten building--debt-free. The new housing for grades 1-3 includes a beautiful common area with classrooms branching off in six directions. This phase of Shared Visions also included the renovation of the old Lower School Building into Fine Arts, Foreign Language, and Computer labs. Referred to as the Morriss Building, the After School Program was also housed there.
With the dedication of the new Middle School addition in March, 1998, St. James completed phase II of Shared Visions. The remodeling included the addition of three new classrooms and a common area for the Middle School. In addition, a new computer lab containing state-of-the-art wiring provides enhancement for our 24hr/day broad band fiber optic Internet connection, as well as capabilities for multimedia production. New restroom facilities for both boys and girls, and a conference room are a great treat for current students and teachers. The portable building behind the Admin building was also renovated as the school's new library.
The ongoing additions of campus facilities as well as a continuing growth in the student population made repair of the road a necessity to ease traffic problems on the main campus.
With much regret, 2000 saw longtime Headmistress Nancy Russell leave the School to be with her family in Tucson, Arizona. The School remains grateful to Ms. Russell for the tremendous expansion of the school during her thirteen-year tenure, and will not soon forget the intense growth experienced by St. James under her leadership.
The Venerable Thomas H. Carson, Rector of St. James Episcopal Church, together with a small group of Texarkanians founded St. James Day School in 1948. At that time, the School offered kindergarten and first grade, and met in the old parish house of St. James Church. A faculty of four handled all instruction, with an enrollment of 32. An additional grade was added each year.
By 1950, St. James School had greatly expanded. With an enrollment of 140, a faculty of 17, plus a nurse, a consulting psychologist, and a school physician available, the School moved to a beautiful country campus on North State Line. The 25 acres of land with an abundance of East Texas hard woods and pines continues to provide a wonderful atmosphere for the children of St. James. St. James graduated its first 6th grade class on May 30, 1952. Members of the first graduating class were Mary Sue Smith, Nancy Ketchum, Nancy Atkinson, #### Murphy, John Carson, Billy Moseley, and Dan Murphy.
In 1953, St. James expanded by two grades and began the fall term with Pre-Kindergarten through the eighth grade. The previous rectory for St. James Episcopal Church (originally the Seegar Home) was acquired and converted into the new school building for St. James. The Board of Trustees brought J. Bettis Lawrence from the University of Oklahoma to serve as the new headmaster. Mr. Lawrence was a renowned historian who received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma and his Master's degree from the University of California.
Another new faculty member in 1953 was Wendell Blake, a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut. Wendell was also organist and choirmaster at St. James Church and director of the Boys Choir. Although music was his speciality, Mr. Blake also coached the basketball team, taught Latin, and sometimes GREEK!
The 1953 graduating class included Libby Gooch, Haydon Fuller, the Honorable Buzz Arnold, Tabby Schnipper, and Robert Young.
The Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Josh Morriss, Sr. and a committee composed of Mrs. William Fuller, Mrs. Richard L. Arnold, and Headmaster Lawrence, unanimously passed the committee's proposal to add a ninth grade in the fall of 1954. In preparation for offering classes from Pre-Kindergarten through 9th grade, much time was spent improving the athletic fields, and a program of soccer, touch football, baseball, and basketball was carried out under the direction of Upper School Director, Wendell Blake.
These years saw the construction of a new Lower School, Middle School, and PreSchool as the student population outgrew the original plantation home on the premises. A full-sized gym was built adjacent to a tennis court to enhance the physical education of our students.
Father Richard Allen, Rector St. James Episcopal Church
Martin Filogamo served as Headmaster from 1977 until his retirement in 1987. 'Mr. Fil,' as he was known, was beloved of both students and faculty His stage persona was relatively unknown until he sang Chattanooga Choo Choo in the spring musical of 1987! Mr. Fil was often seen mowing the grounds or coaching the football team, but he especially liked subbing for the music teacher because he would perform A Tisket, A Tasket on the piano as the class tried to sing along. (Mr. Fil could not play the piano)