Teacher Tribute: Austin James


Provided by: A. James

Embracing in a hug with senior Mason Roy, Coach James shows how much he cares about his athletes on senior night. As a teacher and coach, there is no doubt that Mr. James will continue to make an impact on his students and athletes for years to come.

Hannah Hortman, Editor-in-Chief

  Devoted to both the fields of baseball and mathematics, Mr. James is an all-star of a teacher and a coach. Mr. James teaches AP Statistics and Pre-Calculus, while also serving as the head coach for the Millbrook Varsity Boys Baseball Team. In addition, he serves as the Math Department Chair and Assistant Athletic Director. Coach James has made his impact on the Millbrook community in numerous ways, but his role as a math teacher and baseball coach make him a notable figure at our school.

  As an upperclassman in high school, Mr. James realized during this “formative time period” that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his mom and aunt by becoming a teacher. Graduating from NC State University with a degree in Mathematics and Political Science, Mr. James went on to earn his Masters in Education from Wake Forest University. In the fall of 2008, Mr. James started his teaching career at Millbrook High School.

  Mr. James currently teaches Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics, but regardless of the level of math, he wants his students to understand the purpose of what they are learning and how skills could be applicable outside of the classroom. When asked how he implements this goal for his students, Mr. James explains, “I try to teach the concepts through the lens of a story or the lens of some practical use.” He notes that, “Pre-Calculus is where all of the concepts that you learned in Math 1, 2, and 3 come together, and you see why it was useful to learn all of those with respect to each other.” 

  Mr. James also hopes that his students feel more confident in their ability after taking his class. Senior Marian Ward says, “He’s helped me a lot! Statistics is a lot harder than Calculus or Algebra for me, so to adjust to the different type of math, he offered me to come in his room before quizzes and do some review before.” Mr. James is loved by his students because he genuinely cares about them as people as well as how his teaching benefits them. 

  Michelle Miller, a former student of Mr. James, recalls witnessing a great example of this: “They were going over the homework, and the students had a disagreement about one of the answers. Instead of telling them the answer, he let them discuss the question for the rest of the class period. Although that wasn’t in the lesson plan for that day, he knew the value that the discourse they were having would add to their understanding. He constantly makes these adjustments throughout his teaching based on what’s best for the students, which is a great picture of his talent as a teacher.” Because of the confidence that Mr. James instilled in her and his consistent support, Mrs. Miller pursued a teaching career with the help of his guidance and encouragement.

  Coach James has served as the head coach of the Men’s Varsity Baseball Team for the past ten years and is responsible for managing the entire Millbrook baseball program. One of his favorite parts of the job is keeping in touch with former players. Mr. James coached Brian Miller for four years, before Miller was drafted into the Miami Marlins. Miller, who currently plays at the professional level, explains, “Coach James really challenged me to be the best version of myself on the ball field. Practices were always super competitive from start to finish, and he always held a calm presence during the games no matter the situation. A lot of the things he emphasized are drills that I’ve taken with me through college and pro ball. In the classroom he was the same way. There was never a “wasted” day or lesson. I always appreciated the work ethic he brought to his teaching.”

  When asked to describe Coach James, Brian Miller states, “In the classroom, field, and at home he’s a man you want to follow and look up to. You’ll notice that he’s the same around everybody, but also able to relate and get the most out of everyone in a unique way that fits that person/situation.” Michelle Miller agrees, saying, “From the big things like creating innovative lessons to the smaller things like giving his students nicknames, as his student or player you always feel like he cares about you and is invested in your life.”

  It is clear from those who have had Mr. James as a teacher and coach that he truly cares about others, not just for their success on the field or in the classroom, but also as human beings who are experiencing the challenges of life. As the twin of his sister who has Down Syndrome, Mr. James was shaped by his role as a big brother. It helped him grow as a person and has contributed to his natural acceptance of all the people he encounters throughout his life. As a husband, father of two children, baseball coach, and math teacher, Mr. James pours his heart into his service to others and across the board, is regarded as the most caring individual one will ever meet.