SAP Elementary’s Schrankler is retiring

By Sarah CR Clark

James Schrankler, St. Anthony Park Elementary’s nationally recognized science and engineering teacher, is retiring at the end of the current school year.

Beloved by fellow staff members and students, Schrankler’s retirement is bittersweet news.

 “Mr. Schrankler makes fun activities into learning opportunities,” said fifth-grader Erik Bollman, “His openers always wow me!” (Schrankler is known for beginning his lessons with attention-grabbing, curiosity-inspiring opening demonstrations.)

Third grader Lars Clark said, “After Mr. Schrankler retires, I’m going to miss some of his science experiments and Eggbert, an egg with a face drawn on that is the test subject in a lot of different things. Mr. Schrankler is fun and cool and I’ll miss him.”

Schrankler has taught at St. Anthony Park Elementary for 21 years and within St. Paul Public Schools for 39 years. During his years at SAP Elementary, Schrankler hosted 20 science fairs (missing only 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions) and 60 grade-specific Science Nights for students and their families.

“I have always been so impressed by how the St. Anthony Park community comes together and rallies around our kids,” Schrankler told the Bugle.

In the summer of 2018, Schrankler received the highest recognition for a kindergarten through 12th-grade mathematics or science teacher, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, in Washington, D.C.

St. Anthony Park Elementary Principal Karen Duke noted, “Mr. Schrankler’s magic is that he cultivates in kids a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world. He helps them see that we are all scientists when we ask questions, collect information and interpret what we found. He teaches science that is accessible to everyone and still academically rigorous. We will all miss him.”

Besides teaching at St. Anthony Park Elementary, Schrankler has written science and engineering curricula, coached educators and has taught post-secondary classes at the University of Minnesota, Dual Language Immersion Schools, the Minnesota Grow Your Own Teacher licensure program and Concordia University.

In retirement, Schrankler said he plans to continue teaching some post-secondary classes among a long list of other activities including spending time with his family.

“My family has started a foundation in my youngest daughter’s name (Laura), who passed away at the age of 25 in July of 2022 from sudden cardiac arrest,” Schrankler said. “Our foundation raises funds to award scholarships for graduating seniors at her high school. I look forward to spending more time working on the foundation mission and to grow our partnership with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.”

Reflecting on his career Schrankler said, “Being a science specialist in an elementary school is simply the best teaching job there is anywhere. I would not have changed one thing about my career path from the district to the schools where I have taught.

“I can’t thank the community enough for the support over the years. I have always felt supported by our community in everything I have done. SAP is an amazing place.” 

Sarah CR Clark lives in St. Anthony Park and is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.

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