LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Claudine James

Position: English Language Arts Teacher
School: Malvern Middle School
School District: Malvern School District
City, State: Malvern, AR

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Claudine James was nominated by an anonymous student.

"A student's mind can be molded by so many different things; all of these impact the way students think and feel about themselves," said James' nominator. "I met my seventh grade Pre-AP teacher, now role-model, Ms. Claudine James, and she set my world on fire with the many topics she introduced to us. The books in her class library represented not only the cultures found in our community, but the world in general."

"Here I am, three years later, and I have accomplished so much: first place in an essay contest, essay on the front page of the newspaper, student of the month, and my grades are always at their best," said the nominator. "I couldn’t be who I am today without my favorite teacher, Ms. James. She has taught me and many others what it really means to be an overachiever. She will forever have an impact, as she has changed many lives."     

"Ms. James always taught me that at times, we may give up on ourselves. These are the times when we can achieve greatness," said her nominator. "On a personal level, Ms. James hasn’t just been a former teacher. She has also been my role model, someone that I knew I could always look up to. Last fall, she selected me and four other students to introduce her as she received the 2019 HSC Community Service Award."

From a local newspaper article in March: “Claudine James is the official SIS (Statistics in School) Ambassador for HSC. The role of this volunteer position is to bring awareness to the 2020 Census through teacher-led activities that use statistics to highlight the importance of the 2020 Census. 

In an article published on June 4th, Ms. James said: “As an educator, I seek to address the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of all my students. This includes the responsibility to help students in their personal growth and development. Experts say SEL cannot take place without a culturally relevant start. Therefore, addressing students’ culture is critical before helping them learn and develop new social skills and behaviors.”

This article included a student’s reflection, which stated: “I am glad Ms. James took the time to educate me about myself through my people. She ignited the spark that changed my life forever.”

In July, Ms James submitted a student’s reflection on John Lewis’ book, March. The student wrote, “So many people have changed my life over the years, Ms. James, my English teacher, being one of them. If she wasn't my teacher, I wouldn't have become the writer I am today, and I wouldn't have discovered that I am so much more than a regular kid. She pushes me to do better than I did the last time, and she is the reason why I read March. I would stand up for her any day of the week. “ 

This was an article recently published in the local newspaper:

“As Ms. James enters her twelfth year of teaching for the district, she has set a precedent as a passionate educator who enjoys inspiring students both inside and outside of the classroom. She currently teaches eighth grade English, and is also ESL Certified, National Board Certified Teacher and has a Lead and Master Arkansas Teaching License endorsement. Ms. James embodies qualities that deliver success in schools, and to this credit has received numerous awards, including most recently: Walgreens WE Teachers Award, James H. Atkinson Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Arkansas History, Henry Ford's Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award, 2019 Sanford Teaching Award and 2019 HSC Community Service Award. In addition, she was recently able to share her educational experience as a panelist on a national five part Webinar Series. Superintendent Golden said, 'Whether it’s the network of relationships she has built within the greater community or with her students, Ms. Claudine James demonstrates the impact educators have on the lives of their students that goes beyond the walls of the school. It is with this connection in mind that the board chose her to help further the mission of the district, Passion, Pride and Excellence - for all.' Ms. James, as the new cultural community liaison, will work within the district and community to highlight cultural awareness and to help other educators gain knowledge and skills related to building a platform for culturally responsive teaching.”

Two weeks later, she was featured again. “Malvern School District was enlightened by Claudine James’ presentation with some important factors on how to create a culturally responsive classroom.”

"During the two years I was in her class, she taught me more things than I can learn in a lifetime," James' nominator said. "She taught me how to become an overachiever and think beyond my wildest dreams. 'A truly amazing teacher is hard to find and impossible to forget.' Thank you, Ms. James, for everything you do for me and the students to come. You've had a huge impact on my life and, given me some great opportunities. You've also done something that most teachers don't do, which is believe in your students. You're truly a LifeChanger."



Comments (31)


Deandra Brandon Posted 2 months ago

Ms James is Ms Claudine to me. I’ve known her since I was 4 years old, when I started attending her daycare. I outgrew the daycare, but I loved being around her so much, I still attended well into my teen years. As a 30 year old, I reflect on how she provided not only me, but so many others, with a great foundation. We all agree our formative years, at ACAC Child Care, were nothing short of life-changing. Knowing her and loving her as I do, it was no surprise that she’s been equally successful as a middle school educator. But now the world has also discovered how exceptional of an educator she is. Her new appearance on the worldwide stage is linked to her recently- created TikTok account which she created to share grammar lessons with her students. @imthatenglishteacher posts daily grammar lessons that have become a huge hit. She started posting videos on TikTok for her students, and within six weeks she had 100,000 followers. As of today, only two months after appearing on TikTok, she’s at 246,000 followers. She now has the world as her engaged students - literally. Here’s some of the comments posted on her TikTok account: “I’m an Italian and I’m learning a lot more here on your account than at school. Thank you so much.” “I’m from romania And My english teacher never Could explain grammar better than you” “This is awesome! I’m studying for my international English test and your videos help me a lot Thanks Teacher” “Oh thank you so much, I'm mexican and I'm learning english and your videos clarify a lot of things for me!” I love your videos! Look I’m learning English and your videos are helping me!” “Thanks, your videos help me a lot and i learn more with you than my teachers. Greetings from Poland.” “Such a great educator with a love for teaching. Thank you.” “She is my new favorite tiktok user. I am so thankful for these lessons.” I’m so happy for Ms Claudine’s success. I’ve always known how life changing she is not only as an educator, but also as a mom (all 3 sons are college graduates), and even community leader. When I think of Ms. Claudine, I think of someone who I can’t imagine not being a part of my life. In that aspect alone, she’s a life changer, but she’s touched studebts around the world. Here she is on TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeRYE3UG/

Veronica Williams Posted 2 months ago

Claudine James changed my life as a fellow educator. We met at a teaching workshop for the Little Rock Writer's Project, and I remember thinking and saying, "You would have been my favorite teacher if I had been blessed enough to enter your classroom as a student!" But she is my favorite teacher now anyway because she changed the way I teach and my fundamental approach to achieiving. And she continues to amaze and inspire me. She is on par with all reknown educators throughout time, Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary Church Terrell, Carter G. Woodson, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Nannie Burroughs, Claudine James. That's the way I'll tell my daughter about her.

Claudine James Posted 5 months ago

WOW ! What awesome feedback; I feel so blessed. As I was reading these amazing comments, I thought to myself, I so thankful. Teaching is very rewarding and also reflective. As I think about my role as an educator I cannot forget the many affirmations my students have used to keep me motivated and energized in this role that sometimes leaves us drained and frustrated. But, it's always the students who remind educators of why we teach. The last week of 2017 school, student Haley sent an email to Ms. James; it stated: “Ms. James, I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do. These past two years have been great thanks to you. You taught me to do things I would if never thought I could. You helped me to become the BEST writer I could be. We both know we have been through a lot. Despite everything I've put you through; you never gave up on me. I'm very lucky to get a teacher like you. You put me up to challenges that I would of never thought I could get through, and I did; and I have you to thank for it. Ms. James, you gave me a whole new outlook on life. I can honestly say, you have been the best teacher I have ever had.” Students’ comments who presented at our yearly literary exhibit: “I think this project bought knowledge and a refreshed attitude for reading and the works of literature.” ~Ashton. “Students learned skills they otherwise would not have developed, and the exhibit opened doors for them that will lead them to success later in life.” ~Nathan. “I experienced something that I have never experienced before. I felt a sense of accomplishment, a sense of responsibility and a sense of pride.”~ Kealey. “Letting us participate in this exhibit was the best thing a teacher has ever done for me.” ~Ashley. Words from Alex, who wrote an invitation letter to the community to attend his class’ literacy exhibit: My English teacher as of now, Ms. James fits the description of a dedicated teacher. She’s taken the needed time to properly instruct us how to create “perfect cheesecake” essays by constructing an appealing opening paragraph and a dramatic closing. What’s more important though is what she did to influence the whole class. She’s integrated a lot of history into our reading and writing lessons such as reading about the Holocaust from the perspective of multiple survivors. She’s taught us about developing tolerance towards others through modern genocides. She’s also taught us the most important lesson, what is courage? Giving influential, eye-opening lessons that teach everyone about the past and what to do and not to do isn’t the only thing though. We’ve been taught how to be great, successful writers in general, and that can lead us very far in life. I can happily say that I am not alone in being influenced by her. The exhibit will display how whole classes are being moved through the books and texts she has had us read. This exhibit also requires a lot of dedication and seems to take up a large amount of her time to plan and create. I think that’s quite a step above the normal standards of teaching and is something that makes the whole school proud. Student Maggie’s invitation for 2017 exhibit: “She cares about us and treats us like her own children. She wants us to learn and grow, and get the chance to open our minds and learn. Ms. James has spent an immense amount of her own funds to ensure that hundreds - maybe thousands- of students will be able open their minds and learn of the joy books and reading can bring. This is a teacher who truly cares and wants the world to learn.” At the end of each year, students complete a teacher survey; I reflect on one question in particular: “What have you most liked about being a student in my class?” Responses include: “You pushed me.” “You made me see how smart I am.” “Thanks, you made me mad at first, but I have never had a teacher who thought so much of me.” “How did you know I could read so many books? I didn’t know I could; you believed in me.” In 2014, a student wrote an essay for the Barnes and Noble My Favorite Teacher contest. The winning essay stated: “I don’t have a favorite teacher, because teaching doesn’t reflect all she does. She helps us see what we are capable of, and what we can show others…Teaching us perseverance, courage, self worth is what she does best; she doesn’t simply TEACH.” Those remarks echoed those made by student Jaclyn: “I hope that I have shown you through my actions how much I love, appreciate, and respect you; however, you have always insisted that I express myself much better through my words. At the beginning of our first year together, you said that you treat your students as though they were your very own children, and you have. You have displayed affection towards us of that which only a mother could possess. You have gained our respect because you treat us with the respect that you believe we all deserve. And we appreciate everything you do, because you do everything in hopes of creating a better world, and touching the future that you teach. You tell us stories daily, not for our entertainment, but to teach us lessons that we may not learn outside of Room 202. Based on my experience, I believe that you have not only been a teacher, but also a mentor. On days when we didn’t know our left from our right, you showed us the right way, and where we needed to go to be successful.” My effectiveness as an educator is constantly evaluated and judged by my students acknowledging my efforts to not only impact their lives through effective teaching methods, but to incorporate Culturally Responsive Teaching into the curriculum. A past student reflected how project-based learning can positively impact students. “We've learned an immeasurable amount of information about numerous cultures without having to leave our own school. The books chosen for us to read taught me more in the span of a few months than many have learned in their whole life. Ms. James wants us to learn and to open our minds and think outside the box. Without her, many of us wouldn't know a thing about a young man in Africa who built a windmill, or a child in China who risked her life, and the list continues.” When I say I love teaching, I mean I LOVE TO TEACH. I do hope that the lessons I teach and the stories I tell are remembered for years to come and perhaps that in itself is life changing. Many many thanks to each one who left these inspiring comments. I will cherish them forever. CJ

Deborah Smith Posted 6 months ago

I have known Claudine James since she was a very small girl because her mother and I were friends. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow over the years to become this dedicated, inspiring and committed teacher. She has always chosen the path of excellence in whatever she has undertaken and with a tenacious spirit she has accomplished one of primary life's goals of becoming a teacher. As many of the comments have previously stated she mixes her love of learning into a palatable experience that not only inspires but propels her students to do more than they themselves thought could be accomplished. She cares about the whole child, their entire well well-being. To provide books for her students and to build her classroom library, Claudine writes grants, contacts authors and other patrons of the arts. Claudine's efforts and involvements are not confined to the classroom but extend to the community. She is a regular attendee at the Malvern District's monthly board meetings. Additionally, she volunteers her time on a committee to restore a historic African American Landmark; an elementary school. Claudine also serves on the committee for the annual Martin Luther King Remembrance Celebration. Claudine James is the consummate professional with a genuine heart for children and learning.º

Matt James Posted 6 months ago

I am the youngest son of Claudine James and was her student for 7th and 8th grade English. I’m not exactly sure what to say about my mom besides saying she treats her students just like her own kids; believe me. I’ve seen her take things of mine (clothes, backpacks, shoes, etc.) and give it to one of her students. So, maybe the words of one of those students she treated as her own will say more than I can. I remember our senior year my mom sent me an email, an essay written by one of my classmates. My mom was so proud of the kind words. I wasn’t able to locate my classmate, whom I last heard was in the military, to ask her to share it herself, but I did find the essay which I think really shows what many students think of my mother. The email reads: “ There are those who truly embody what it means to be an educator, who continuously raise the bar, challenge what is expected, and reinvent what it means to be a keeper of tomorrow’s future. One of those individuals, I am proud to say is Ms. Claudine James. She has and continues to not only serve as a mentor, but an astounding role model that I, and many others, have had the blessing to look up to for support and guidance. Ms. James is an extraordinary individual, and her passion, drive, and diligence to educate today’s youth bleeds into and is illuminated within everything she does in and out of the classroom. Ms. James was my eighth grade Pre-Ap Literacy teacher, and the year I spent within her class is one that I will never forget and will always have a lasting impact on me. Within her class we learned about a wide array of diverse change makers, innovators, activists, and heroes and heroines. Through her teaching I was exposed to numerous cultures, places, customs, and people who had dared to make a change. These people consisted of Maya Angelou, Malala Yousafzai, Roberto Clemente, Elie Wiesel, and many more inspiring individuals. Entering her classroom everyday was like stepping onto a revving jet being prepared to take you to explore someplace new. Through our various lessons, I was given the opportunity to learn about things and people I had never known. By being exposed to numerous individuals who made significant impacts on the world and positively influenced society, she showed me that I too not only had the capability but responsibility to likewise initiate change. It was within that year that I realized I wanted to be a cultivator of change and that I possessed the drive to do so. Not only does Ms. James actively show her drive to educate her students but she also expresses her desire to educate individuals of all ages. The lessons we learned within her class did not cease at the threshold of the classroom; they extended out into our community. For the past six years Ms. James has organized exhibits to be showcased for the community, where her students present the information they have learned to the public and therefore spread their knowledge. Through the opportunity to spread and present all the various information I had learned within class that year at the Heroes in History Exhibit, I actually discovered that I had a gift for public speaking, and ever since then have been utilizing my gift for the betterment of the community. During my year within her class, Ms. James worked to provide numerous opportunities to introduce us students to new opportunities and experiences; these included a trip to present at the Little Rock River Market Cultures Exhibit, a visit to the Little Rock Central High School Historic Site, and a tour of the Bill Clinton Presidential Library. However, my experience with her compassion and dedication has extended far beyond the classroom. Mrs. James has not only been a tremendous teacher to me, but additionally an astounding mentor and role model. She continuously shows me her devotion to the well being of her students and her willingness to go the extra mile to ensure their success. The summer following my eighth grade year, Ms. James became my mentor, and throughout the summer, I continued to grow and develop through her teaching and guidance. She taught me the importance of perseverance, kindness, and determination. Even now, although I am no longer her student, she continues to inspire me through her endless love and dedication. Whenever I need assistance, help on an essay or a letter of recommendation, she is always there to help and offer advice. She is never too busy to offer assistance to her students, past or current. She took the time to nominate me for the Chamber of Commerce Young Person of the Year Award, and in part because of her beautiful, glowing nomination, I was named the Hot Spring County Young Person of the Year. Her everyday actions reflect her compassion, humility, and capability of reaching her students on a more in-depth level. Ms. James is a tremendous asset due to her capability to connect with her students through creative methods, her adeptness of looking beyond the surface, and her willingness to go outside the box to have a true impact on students’ learning, and therefore improve and evolve the teaching process. She demonstrates constant devotion to her job as a teacher, as well as responsibility for effectively educating today's youth, and therefore tomorrow's leaders." It makes me proud to know students notice how hard my mom tries to help all her students be successful.

Yolanda McCollum Posted 6 months ago

Claudine S. James and I have been friends for over 20 years. I met Claudine when she was a Director at her childcare. It was there where I saw her prepare children for grade school. She taught students what they needed to know for Kindergarten and beyond. Both of my younger children attended her childcare and when I took each one to their Kindergarten Assessment Process, the teacher asked me "where did they attend Pre-School?" I said, A.C.A.C. Childcare! Where Claudine James is the Director. The teacher then proceeds to tell me that "all of the children that attends that pre-school comes out well prepared." When Claudine decided to take her talents to older kids, I knew that she was going to make a difference. She is a teacher at Malvern Middle School and she exemplifies the motto "No Child Left Behind." She taught Pre-AP students but one year she taught regular students and she brought up their test scores and reading levels. Claudine's ability to teach is through caring. Caring for Claudine is knowing who she is teaching and teaching how you learn. She has this amazing ability of telling relatable stories. All of her students, as well as adults, are so intrigued that they do not realize that they are learning at the same time. In the past (before Covid-19), she required her students to read numerous books within the year and she would have an award ceremony for their achievements. Claudine would have annual themed exhibits where the students had to read a particular book, write a report, and give an oral report of the book to the attendees of the exhibit. She was preparing them for college and for whatever they chose for their career. I am going to leave you with this statement. When you walk into Ms. Claudine James' class expect your life to be changed forever.

Keeley Frye Posted 6 months ago

Ms. James is a light in anyone’s life that knows her. She has done so much for me in my life that makes her much more than a teacher, but someone who has significantly changed my life. I had the honor of having Ms. James as my seventh and eighth grade English teacher. Starting middle school is a strange and hard time for most kids, but having someone to constantly remind you of who you are and what you can accomplish can completely turn things around. Ms. James was that person for me and many others. I began middle school as a very shy student who was unconfident about ever stepping out of my comfort zone, but Ms. James knew that I could accomplish so much more if I would just allow myself to step out. In the eighth grade, our English class had a huge project to work on that would later involve being presented to the public. This project was called, “Heroes in History” and was something we put our all into so that everyone knew of the important heroes that paved the way to where we are now. I had an exhibit in this project that would allow me to present and speak out in the public which was something I was very afraid of at the time, and could not ever see myself doing, but Ms. James saw the potential in me and knew I could do it. I practiced for so long to prepare myself for this project and once it finally got here, I was more ready than ever and had a confidence in myself that I had never had before. I would never have been able to do this without Ms. James and her belief in me. It is so important for young children to have someone like Ms. James in their lives to be there for them and instill confidence and self- assurance in them that will carry on past their time in school. I am now a Junior in college and there are still times when I feel scared to step out of my comfort zone, but I remember what Ms. James taught me and how she saw a confidence within myself that I could not even see, and I know that I can do it. I will never have another teacher in my life like Ms. James. She not only cares about teaching her students English, but teaching them about themselves and where they fit in this world. She is truly a life changer in many ways and has created a place of acceptance for every student that has entered her classroom. You will always have a place where you fit in and someone who is there for you when you know Ms. James.

Asia McCollum Posted 6 months ago

My relationship with Ms. Claudine started at an early age.My brother and I went to A.C.A.C Childcare, where she educated us academically and she educated us in life.As a teacher, she taught me how to be a good student and a good person. Her bright personality and the multitude of elements she implemented as my former teacher, inspired me to love learning.Out of all my teachers and professors, she is the only one who still follows up with me to see how I’m doing. Ms. Claudine continues to be a building block to our community by posting English lessons for us to review as we are older and out of school. As for her teacher of the year nomination, I can not think of a more deserving person.

Keeley Frye Posted 6 months ago

Ms. James is a light in anyone's life that knows her. I had the honor of having her as my seventh and eighth grade English teacher, but she was much more than just a teacher to me and left a mark in my life way after those two years. As I began the seventh grade, I was very shy and afraid of doing anything outside of my comfort zone, but Ms. James was determined to fix that because she knew the potential I had to accomplish so much if I could only just step out of my comfort zone. When eighth grade began we started a huge project called "Heroes in History" that we worked on the entire year. This project defined our entire eighth grade year and made changes in my life that I will never forget. Even though public speaking was definitely out of my comfort zone, considering how shy I was, Ms. James knew that I could do it and believed in me the whole time. Because of this confidence that she had in me throughout the year, I completed a goal that I did not think I could ever complete because of how shy I always was. Without Ms. James, I would not have ever been able to find that confidence in myself that she assured me I had. Middle school can be a weird and uncomfortable time for anyone, but because of Ms. James I had someone I knew would believe in me and keep me confident in myself. She will always be someone that I know will have wise words of advice when I need it, someone who will be there to help me through a problem, and someone who changed my life for the better.

Leza Lowitz Posted 6 months ago

I would like to write in support of Ms. Claudine James. I am an American writer and was very honored when Ms. James chose "Up from the Sea" (Crown Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House), my YA novel-in-verse about Japan's March 11, 2011 tsunami, to teach her middle grade students. I was delighted when Ms. James reached out to me and asked me for an "author's statement" to add to her teaching plan, and was happy to contribute. I had no idea of the amount of time, energy, love and care Ms. James put into sharing my novel with her students until she sent me the teaching guide she had developed. To say that I was impressed would be a serious understatement. The teaching guide included segments on vocabulary, organisation, style, figures of speech, reading questions for deeper inquiry, text analysis including investigation of references sources like "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson, universal themes, authenticity and truth, information about earthquakes and tsunamis, an entire segment on hope (what a gift!), writing prompts, a thorough reading comprehension quiz, plus a bonus inquiry about multicultural literature. Ms. James is a teacher who clearly cares about literature, as well as opening the hearts and minds of her students to foster empathy, understanding, compassion and authentic inquiry and debate. As we all know, teaching is such an under-appreciated profession. But Ms. James' students clearly love her and appreciate her. Judging from the student video testimonies she shared with me, they have been profoundly positively impacted by what she shares with them--one even had tears in her eyes, which brought me to tears. It is clear that she cares deeply about our world, America, these students lives, and the possibilities for peace, understanding, and tolerance that these kids will carry with them into their lives as they embrace their futures. Ms. James is a gift. Literature is about touching lives, opening minds and softening hearts. Ms. James clearly does that in the classroom and in the way she lives and models how to be a true citizen of the world. I highly support her as a candidate for this award and hope that she has many, many years ahead of her to continue her good work. I recommend her without reservation. Thank you for reading my endorsement. I hope Ms.Sanders will continue to do what she is doing for years to come, making a huge difference in teaching tolerance, understanding, compassion and acceptance to a wide swath of young people from various backgrounds in America--what the world needs most now! Sincerely, Leza Lowitz, M.A. Author of Up from the Sea and other books. lezalowitz.com

Ola Faye Walker Posted 6 months ago

I'm proud and honored to support Claudine Sanders-James! First of all, I grew up with Claudine's mom, Sarah who was one of the kindest, most intelligent people I had the pleasure of knowing and Claudine certainly has those wonderful traits and gifts, as well! Claudine is an amazing asset to both her students and her community. It is such a blessing to see a teacher pour into her students the tools necessary to get them on their way! Claudine reminds me of some of the teachers I had growing up; she not only teaches her students, but nurtures them as well! I feel this is definitely a quality Claudine has inherited from her wonderful upbringing. In my opinion, Claudine Sanders-James was born to be a LifeChanger.

Asia Fleming Posted 6 months ago

I have had the honor of knowing Ms. James for the majority of my life. She was my very first teacher at pre-school as well as my teacher in the seventh and eight grade. In middle school, she made her class a second home for all of her students. It was so apparent of how much she cared about us. She encouraged us to do our best and everything we did and was there to help us every step of the way. Ms. James' classroom was a place many students went to escape and to seek comfort. That's what it was to me. Ms. James has a way of making everyone feel accepted and cared for. As far as being a teacher goes, I have yet to have a teacher that taught like she does and I am currently a junior in college. It is very noticeable by the way that she teaches that it is coming from the heart. She makes the biggest efforts to make the things that we have to learn enjoyable. I remember how she would always turn academic lessons into life lessons. She, along with her students, organized an entire exhibit of many influential historic figures and had students present them to members of the school and community. People were very impressed of the way that there were so many thirteen year olds that were so interested and passionate about this exhibit. I remember other students at the middle school being very jealous of the students that had Ms. James as an English teacher. This made me appreciate her even more than I already did. This is one of the many reasons that the things she taught have stuck with me for this long. She not only taught me how to be a good student, but a good person. Overall, Ms. James has so much passion and drive for the things she does, it's inspiring. She created such a strong bond between her and the majority of her students. So strong that even if I need something now I know she will always be there. I could not think of anyone that deserves this award more than her. She has truly changed my life for the better.

Shakesha Smith Posted 6 months ago

What can I say about Mrs. Claudine Sanders James? It started in 1991 whenever I first attended A.C.A.C Childcare. She was one of the best teachers I have ever had. Because of her patience, kindred spirit, I have always wanted to teach others. She was a joy to be around and always knew how to grasp the attention of our young, sponge-like minds. She kept us entertained whether it was going outside for recess or learning a new skill. To get us started throughout the day, she would have us say our ABCs. No, we were not singing the words, but saying them along with her as she spoke them at a steady beat. At the age of 4, I learned how to properly answer the telephone. She made sure her students would be prepared for the next day even at such a young age. No job was too small or too big for her. It did not matter if it was her teaching us how to tie our shoes or how to write our names. Mrs. Claudine does not care about having money or the accolades because she loves to help others. My mother told me a story of how she got laid off from her job. She and my father were unable to make payments for me to continue going to the daycare. Mrs. Claudine told my family to keep sending me because she did not want me to get behind in my schooling. My mother worked at the school to help pay off the debt. I have heard stories of whenever I was in elementary school, I cried because I did not receive a high A on my homework. Mrs. Claudine was there to comfort me letting me know that everything was going to be alright. Throughout school, I continued to be on the Honor Roll even graduating with Honors. Mrs. Claudine is someone whom I look up to. I had my daughter at a young age. I always knew which daycare I wanted her to attend. Unfortunately, A.C.A.C closed before she was given the opportunity. I would tell Mrs. Claudine all the time how I wish her school was still opened because she taught me so much as a child. One summer, she was tutoring my little cousin, she gave my daughter a book to read. She said it would improve her reading. My daughter read the book and was eager to finish it. I thought this would be the last encounter my daughter would have with Mrs. Claudine. Guess what? I was wrong. Luckily, my daughter was in her 8th grade English class. This made me so happy because I knew the impact Mrs. Claudine would leave on her life. Every day my daughter would come home excited about the new material being taught. She could not wait to get back to Mrs. Claudine’s class. She said it was a nice place to be because they were able to talk about everything freely without being ashamed of who they were. The books that she had the students reading were related to everyday topics. I love the fact that she was able to incorporate books about African Americans. Because of her, my daughter became a better reader. Mrs. Claudine loves what she does. It is not every day that you can find someone who does. She is passionate about reaching her students and making sure they understand the material. Right now, she is making different videos to assist not only her students but others who are having problems with grammar. I may not have became a teacher as I had hoped. I did become a nurse. One thing, I take from Mrs. Claudine is that “Education is the key!” I try to make sure my patients are well educated on their medical treatment as well as treated with compassion. These are just a few things that Mrs. Claudine did teach me. My daughter and myself will forever be grateful that she is apart of our lives.

Donna Marks Posted 6 months ago

Claudine is an extraordinary teacher. She was never my teacher, in fact she is my younger cousin. She doesn’t know she teaches me lessons everyday. I watch her classes that she shares online and I learn things I have forgotten or did not learn at all. I think to myself how lucky her students are to have such a caring teacher who believes in what she teaches and I find myself wishing that I would of had a teacher like her. Claudine corrects me without making me feel stupid. When you have the ability to teach a 55 year old and make them feel good about correcting their mistake, well that’s pure magic. The compassion she has is genuine. She is the teacher that her students will always reference back to when they talk about school. Claudine being nominated for teacher of the year is not a surprise, the surprise would be her not winning.

Dorothy Willis Posted 7 months ago

You have no idea what a lift Claudine gives me on numerous occasions. When I say she made my day, this past Mother’s Day, believe me, that gift of a devotional put the icing on the cake for me. Supporting her in all of her accomplishments is my pleasure! I pray that she will keep working, growing and influencing the lives of our youth in Malvern. Before school started this year, she presented to the district teachers . I read both pages in the newspaper. I loved her presentation. Everyone should have received helpful tips that will help them be just a little more effective in their teaching skills this year. She did a fantastic job! I am so proud of her! My hope is that she will keep on learning and sharing with others. Whatever she writes is always beautifully expressed and whatever project she’s involved in is ALWAYS top notch. In 2018, she was co-chairman of a group that hosted a reception for retired AA educators. Here we were, retired, all over 75 years old, and being honored years after retirement. I cannot say how much that beautiful reception meant to all of us. We were treated like celebrities. Is the definition of a LifeChanger a person who works tirelessly helping others, changing the role of an educator and finding opportunities to help others shine? If so, that’s Claudine. Dorothy Willis Claudine’s 7th and 8th grade PE instructor, retired Coach and Malvern School District Wall of Honor recepient

Melecia Robinson Posted 7 months ago

Ms. Claudine’s impact in the realm of education is far beyond the classroom’s walls. As a former student, I can attest to witnessing firsthand her impact in action. Due to her influence, myself and many others, are active lifelong learners. We strive to be better and know more because of her. She’s not only made a difference in the classroom, she’s made one outside it as well. The students aren’t the only one’s who benefit from her, our community benefits as well. She gives us all hope and inspiration. We know, and believe we can because she not only told us, she showed us. I’m forever grateful to her for continuously proving to me, and many others that look the way we do and come from places similar to the one we’re from, that regardless of how you look anything is possible. Anything. As a little black girl from a small town, she helped mold my “big fish, in a small pond”mentality. I know that my influence is great and that the purpose of my voice is to make a difference in the world. Because of Ms.Claudine. I truly believe that anything is possible and that I can do anything I set my mind to.Because of Ms. Claudine. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a very young age and since the very beginning she’s been a beacon of light on my life. I will forever strive to be “one day better” and never stop learning and being a selfless servant in the name of hospitality and education. Because of Ms. Claudine. In every way, shape, and form, she is truly a LifeChanger.

Glorie Thornton Posted 7 months ago

Ms. James has set a precedent as a passionate educator who enjoys inspiring students both inside and outside of the classroom. She demonstrates the impact educators have on the lives of their students that goes beyond the walls of the school. She inspires everyone to be all you can be. She is an outstanding citizen of our community that is always ready to volunteer, be on a committee, or just help to organize an event. She is the person everyone wants to to help lead a project, because then it will be a success! I am so grateful to know Ms. James. She has inspired me to be a better person.

Leotha H. Berry Posted 7 months ago

It is with great joy and high esteemed honor that I recommend Claudine James for the Life Changer of the Year award. She is indeed a life changer!!! One who has adopted as her daily motto, the philosophy of Christina McAuliffe, "I touch the future. I teach." Claudine most definitely touches the future with the educational values, moral values, life skills, and extra nuggets she instills in her students, in preparing them for tomorrow. Teaching is more than a career to Claudine. For more than two decades, she full of passion, dignity and integrity, has viewed teaching as a life commitment. About 23 years ago, I entrusted my 4 children into her hands. Because of what she instilled in them, to this day they are sticklers for proper grammar. I honestly may need to get them to proof my recommendation before submitting it. That's just an example of the lasting impact her phenomenal teaching skills, along with her tender touch, caring personality and words of wisdom has on her students. During this semester, Claudine has shared several video snippets of grammar lessons with her students. Her lessons are so detailed, informative and practical, I am still learning and taking notes from them. Claudine James is a top notch teacher, but beyond teaching, she is a molder, shaper, role model and mentor to her students. Many of her students, after graduating from high school, often return and/or send letters to share their successes and accomplishments with her, and to thank her for the impact that she has had on their lives and their decision making. If there ever was a Life Changer in our community and abroad, it is most definitely Claudine James. Respectfully Submitted Leotha H. Berry

Ke'Airra Clegg Posted 7 months ago

There are a thousand great things that could be said about Ms. Claudine James. One of the most influential people I've ever came across in my life, and in my school career. 5 years have passed and I am still applying things that she has taught me to my everyday life. Before I graduated from her class, I made a list of 100 things she taught me that year. That wasn't even half of what I learned in that class. Ms. James is nothing less than amazing. She is more than an educator. She is a life changer for me and many others. Because of her hard work and dedication to helping children learn and succeed, she is someone I will never forget.

William Wilson Posted 7 months ago

Hello, I completely agree with the nomination of Ms. Claudine James for this appropriately named Life Changer Of The Year Award. I have known Ms. James for more than 40 years, and we continue to be friends to this day. She has always been a very upstanding, nurturing and caring person. It seems only natural for her to be drawn to educating and working with children since early on in life, then moving to having her own preschool, ACAC. Not one to stop there, she then moved on to take her great educational talents to benefit the Malvern School District's middle school where she has been for the past 13 years. I can tell you that Ms. James has spent a lifetime making the biggest impacts on students at all levels, while also being an upstanding role model and influence for students and young people who were not directly taught by her. She is a natural educator who has left positive lifelong impacts, and lasting impressions on our youth in our communities. She is highly regarded and has received well deserved accolades as an educator, yet has remained remarkably humble, and has kept her intense passion for what she loves to do. That is to educate our youth, push them to do their best, and then marvel in their development and growth. It's no wonder that past students of all ages speak so positively about Ms. James, with some choosing to follow in her footsteps to become educators as well, due to the impact Ms. James has had on their live. At no time has her education of our youth been more important than now, in this time of Covid-19 and the clearly different day to day. Though the necessary measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of both students and educators alike, Ms. James's "quality" teaching to her students hasn't missed a beat. It has remained top notch. In closing, I'd like to say that it is my honor to be able to leave such a glowing and well deserved commentary in regards to a wonderful educator, and wonderful longtime role model for our youth. I can't think of a better recipient for this award, if she is chosen. Will Wilson

Tom Dillard Posted 7 months ago

On numerous occasions I have observed Claudine James interact with her students, and I am always impressed. In addition to a good knowledge of English literature, Miss James has a remarkable ability to translate that knowledge to her students. She organizes numerous special classroom activities, and she makes sure every student participates in those undertakings. I have noticed on more than one occasion that Miss James' students always rise to the level she expects of them. For example, her students do an end-of-semester program to familiarize parents and the public with the student's work. The students dress for the occasion--their hair groomed and bright smiles on their faces--and they practice their presentations so as to demonstrate good knowledge of the subject matter. Miss James gives her students what they need to shine--academically and socially.

Glorie Thornton Posted 7 months ago

Ms. James has set a precedent as a passionate educator who enjoys inspiring students both inside and outside of the classroom. She demonstrates the impact educators have on the lives of their students that goes beyond the walls of the school. She inspires everyone to be all you can be. She is an outstanding citizen of our community that is always ready to volunteer, be on a committee, or just help to organize an event. She is the person everyone wants on to help lead a project, because then it will be a success! I am so grateful to know Ms. James. She has inspired me to be a better person.

Judy Harrison Posted 7 months ago

Claudine James is a life changer supreme. When I was Dean of Teachers College, Henderson State University (HSU), I met Claudine as she was working on her Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree from a nearby community college. I knew at our first meeting that Ms. James is someone special – a woman who is goal driven, persistent, intelligent, and hardworking. She is a model of professional ethics and is an excellent communicator. After Claudine’s graduation from HSU, I lost track of her for a while. We reconnected at a HSU Reddie Read event a few years ago, and I learned more about her and her students. Every year, HSU selects a “common” book about current national or worldwide issue. Every entering freshman and all faculty receive a copy of the book to read and discuss in class. Then the author of the book is invited to campus to speak about the issue confronted in the book. Authors have included John Lewis, Terry Waite, Judy Shepard (mother of Matthew Shepard), Ishmael Beah, Jeannette Walls, and Joe Kennedy, to name a few. Claudine asked me if there was a way that she could get copies of the books for her middle school students. I put her in touch with the Reddie Read Selection Committee, and her students have been provided copies of the books each year since. She encourages her students to address hard issues "head on." I had no idea how creative and dynamic Claudine is in the classroom until I received an email from one of her students inviting me to visit their “Writers Around the World Exhibit” at College of the Ouachitas. I accepted the invitation and was blown away by the creativity and knowledge of her students. Her expectations for her students is amazing, and they never disappoint. Each student selected a book and author to research. After researching, they had to prepare an individual exhibit about their book and author. I stopped at each station during my visit, and I was astounded by the knowledge, presence, and articulation of these middle school students. If I did not know they were middle school students, I would have believed that they were college students. I’ve taught and worked with hundreds of teachers in my long career as an educator, but I’ve never met a teacher who could motivate her students as well as Claudine. I wish that everyone would have an opportunity to witness these students' extraordinary exhibits. Since then Ms. James has received many state and national recognitions and has had the opportunity to provide professional development at the local, state, and national level. She is a lifelong learner and brings what she learns and teaches to life in her classroom. She is also a community changer, recently becoming the Malvern School District Community Liaison. She was recognized last year as the Hot Spring County Citizen of the Year. There are not enough words or enough space to adequately describe how Ms. James continually changes lives.

Mayona Johnson Posted 7 months ago

In the middle of the pandemic, I read the paper and was so impressed with the article Claudine had written and the students poems she’d submitted. I was so glad to see such positive things going on during this trying time. Our community owes her thanks for sharing the good work that is still going on during this pandemic. Like I say each time, I pick up the local newspaper and see something else she’s done “Keep up the good work”! A month later, Claudine delivered a wonderful message on Mother’s Day. I got chill bumps at one time near the end. Her points on sharing, reflecting, etc. were awesome. No one was bored; she had good examples to highlight all of her points. The poem she highlighted was very good also. I was honored to be mentioned along with other people in the community. I am happy Claudine is still working for the improvement of Malvern through her position as an educator. I recently sent her this email, “I have run out of congratulations. I say again, I am so proud of all of your accomplishments. Keep it up! You’re A wonderful mentor. Some student one day is going to be impressed and say "I want to be just like Ms Claudine James.” That’s why she’s a LifeChanger. Mayona Johnson, retired educator

Dennis Thornton Posted 7 months ago

Ms. James is simply amazing! Her students are so lucky to have someone like her! She literally goes the extra mile, to assure that they have the proper education, guidance, and mentoring that will carry them far in life! She is certainly one of Hot Spring County’s finest!! Only God can place that kind of concern, compassion, and love in someone’s heart!! It is people like Ms. James that continue to motivate me to do more for Hot Spring County. Also, your labor of love keeps me grounded and humble knowing that what you do is not for Claudine, but for those you love, and your passion to shape and mold their lives! One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein : Try not to become a person of success, but rather, try to become a person of value. The meaning is simple: a person of success often puts their self-first, taking more than they give, but a person of value will always give more back than they take! Claudine James is certainly a person of value! May you please consider Ms. Claudine James for this award, she is beyond worthy! Dennis Thornton Hot Spring County Judge hscjudge@hotspringcounty.org 501-332-2261

Elissa Mitchell Posted 7 months ago

Ms. James is a ray of sunshine, there are no words to describe such an amazing person that is so passionate about education. She strives daily to make sure all students reach their full potential. She goes above and beyond to express how important It is to read. She is very knowledgeable on so many levels. If we only had several Claudine Sanders James in the classrooms I think it would definitely make such a major difference. Especially with children that has special needs. She never gives up on them, she is with them through it all. An amazing person with many. Many talents. May God continue to bless you. A beautiful person that makes a difference.

Vergina Smith-Joachim Posted 7 months ago

Claudine James is an educator both on and off the clock! When the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the schools she was the first educator to offer her assistance to me and my children despite the fact that she had her own students to support through the transition to online learning. Claudine has since been very instrumental in helping my ESL learners develop their skills. She continued providing her expertise to my children even through the summer. She delivered books for them to read out of her personal library and educated them on current events. I have witnessed her passion for educating and she does it very well. She is an educator that goes above and beyond what's required in an attempt to ensure that her students are extraordinary! Please accept my recommendation for Mrs. Claudine James as your Life Changer of the Year awardee because she definitely has been that individual for my ESL learners as well as any other student that she has had the privilege to educate. Sincerely, Mrs. Vergina Smith-Joachim, MBA Director TRiO Student Support Services Arkansas State University Three Rivers One College Circle Malvern, Ar. 72104

Karla Casey Posted 7 months ago

Influential people go through life with a purpose. They focus on ways in which they can create the impact they would like to have and achieve the outcomes that they tirelessly work towards accomplishing. This is what Ms. Claudine James means to so many. I was able to see the dedication she has for education when my daughter attended her school, ACAC. She is creative, passionate and motivated. Great teachers leave a lasting impression on their students that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. She is a teacher that gives her students something to think about other than homework. She brings out things in her students that they may not have realized they had. She believes in her students and encourages them to feel empowered. When a teacher stays after school or meets students after hours to help them, that speaks volumes about them. Her long list of achievements proves how deserving she is for this nomination of LifeChanger of the Year. If the world had more teachers like her, it would be a much better place. Karla D. Casey Student Accounts/Accounts Receivable Manager Arkansas State University Three Rivers

Janice Kelly Posted 7 months ago

Ms. James is the personification of dedication, passion and enthusiasm for teaching. She is a Shining Star in a Galaxy of aspiring Educators. She brings life to subject matters that keeps her students enthralled and motivated. Not only is she a consummate professional, she is an artist in full bloom practicing her art to expand the minds and hearts of her youthful charges as well as the community at large. Claudine James is a Rare Jewel indeed deserving of every accolade afforded her quiet genius.

Stephanie James Posted 7 months ago

One word that most accurately describes Claudine James is Inspiration. She does this on a daily basis, whether it is teaching a full lesson to her students, mentoring aspiring professionals, being a pillar in the community, or uplifting family members. She has a God-given talent to touch people with her actions! Her actions either put smiles on faces, provide comfort, leave spectators in awe, or motivated to be better! Ms James ALWAYS goes above and beyond in whatever she does and sets the standard for excellence. She also exerts a plethora of knowledge, wisdom, self confidence, and motivation to those who come in contact with her. Several of her students have gone on to received high honors and scholarships to prestigious universities and colleges. Multiple colleagues have leveraged her expertise for direction on a number of school activities and projects. Not only has she been an inspiration to her students and colleagues, but to her family as well. She has always encouraged her grandchildren to learn and strive for excellence. Her exceptional example inspired both her grandchildren to start and complete the 1,000 Books before Kindergarten Program. As a result, both children are more confident and prepared for grade school. Both grandchildren have been acknowledged as excellent students and advanced in various subjects areas. What she instills in her grandchildren and others is simply invaluable. She is more than deserving of this award!

Chester Sanders Posted 7 months ago

I am so proud of my daughter. She’s wanted to be a teacher all her life. At the age of eight, I built her a full size playhouse/ classroom. She’s been a teacher since then. She follows a long line of family who were educators. There’s so much more that she’s been able to do than they were. Our family is beyond proud of her. Claudine is the great-niece of her namesake, who could only obtain a 9th grade education without relocating. She, on the other hand, has been able to not only help students in the grade she teaches, but help students apply for college and find employment once they graduate. She’s my oldest child, a hard worker, a great teacher and now my LifeChanger of the Year. I only wish her grandfather was here to witness her success. I think he made a good investment in building her that lil schoolhouse years ago.