Tracy Courson’s career illustrates the power of coming together

For more than a decade, Tracy Courson has worked at Prescott Mile High Middle School, which means she’s had the opportunity to be part of so many wonderful traditions. The most important: love.

“Tradition is about coming together,” she said. “It’s about sharing and embracing new ideas and cherishing ‘old’ ones. The number one tradition is always centered around our students, which is why the love in the walls at Mile High will always remain.”

In 1997, Tracy began to visit Mile High to watch her nephew play in concerts. She returned for several years to support him and her niece, and all the other students showcasing their musical talents.

Meanwhile, she was earning her teaching certificate, and always envisioned working at Mile High. Once she completed her student teaching, she visited schools throughout Yavapai County, which confirmed Mile High was the place for her.

“There’s love in the walls at Mile High,” she said.

Immediately, she was immersed in tradition: the sixth-grade block party; the seventh-grade Mini Me project; celebrating marriages, births, and birthdays; a Neely bird for retirees; sharing soup; and more.

And, she created a tradition of her own, in her classroom: playing music and singing little snippets of songs if the lyrics related to something she said or taught.

Tracy loves all the traditions, because they bring people together.

One favorite: the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” reading and concert. This event came to life in 1999 thanks to former band teacher Frank Lawhead and his wife LeAnne Lawhead, a kindergarten teacher at Abia Judd Elementary.

Kindergartners come to Mile High’s Hendrix Auditorium to hear someone read Dr. Suess’s famous holiday tale, timed with live music by the Mile High band. In recent years, Mile High’s Band and Orchestra teacher has added a festival ambiance by putting up a Christmas tree and rocking chair, and offering hot cocoa to audience members. Band members make Shrinky Dink ornaments to hang on the tree, and each kindergartner gets to choose an ornament to take home.

Tracy had the opportunity to do the reading in 2017, when Ryan James, Mile High’s Band and Orchestra teacher invited her.

“I was so thrilled until we started practicing, which was when my nerves escalated,” she said.

She said she loves the facial expressions of the kindergartners as they hear the music in time with the reading of the story. “You can see that they are intently listening and watching,” she said, “thus, enjoying the whole experience, especially watching the Mile High Band students play their musical instruments on the stage.”

Mile High’s motto is “Learn a lot. Have fun. Give Back!” This musical tradition is a great representation of the motto in action.

Tracy’s experience with Prescott Unified School District and Mile High Middle School has run the gamut: she was a long-term eighth-grade substitute in 2009, and then the Title I math teacher from 2009 to 2010. From 2010 to 2015, she taught sixth-grade science, and after taking three months off to handle a family emergency, in September 2015, she took her current post as the Administrative Assistant at Mile High.

When she returned from that three-month leave, she said, she received such a loving welcome from her students and her Mile High family. She called her return “one of the best moments of my life.”

For someone who loves helping others, and being the go-to person to help solve a problem, receiving that love has been priceless. Giving it has become tradition.

For more information about Tracy Courson and the Prescott Unified School District, visit