- Sage Ridge Spotlight
When you think of the Sage Ridge School pillar “community,” you should think of Ms. Christine Kratzer. The Physical Education (PE) Department Head and PE teacher for Scorpions in grades third through eighth has been uniting and empowering students through movement since the school’s founding 25 years ago.
The Reno native and University of Nevada-Reno graduate has taught physical education as far away as Athens, Greece. But the opportunity to work in the city she loves at an independent college-prep school that allows her to create a curriculum best suited to the needs and interests of her students is one of the reasons she has been a member of the Sage Ridge faculty since 1998.
Ms. Kratzer discovered Sage Ridge through her father. He saw an article in the newspaper about the school opening near where Ms. Kratzer grew up skiing at Mt. Rose. What she discovered is that the “ever-evolving and ever-adapting” Sage Ridge School is the optimal teaching environment.
"It's more work, more challenging, but more fulfilling,” Ms. Kratzer said when describing the opportunity Sage Ridge presented her as an educator. Physical education is a key part of Sage Ridge’s core curriculum–it is not an elective or “a special.” For example, it is considered as important to the growth and development of the child as a math or science class.
As such, physical education at Sage Ridge is structured by trained physical education teachers and is based on national standards with full support from the Sage Ridge administration. Ms. Kratzer is constantly collaborating with her colleague Ms. Lidia Lopez, who teaches PE to boys in grades 4-7 as well as Spanish to students in grades 3-4, to ensure their curriculum is curated and tailored for each age level and class size, while also factoring in student interest and new activities. And class includes things often not offered at other lower and middle schools, such as archery for 7th and 8th graders.
"I think one of the things that makes teaching PE here successful is the class sizes. There is plenty of opportunity for one-on-one feedback and we can dictate what activities we do,” Ms. Kratzer said. “I’ve known teachers at other schools who do not know half of their kids’ names because class sizes are so big. I know the kids and I know their families and siblings.”
Walk around the school with Ms. Kratzer and you’ll quickly see that even new students, like Angel Navis ‘28 who recently moved to Reno from Chicago, are chatting with Ms. Kratzer in the third week of school as if they’ve known her for years.
"She's a new student and I know her so well immediately,” Ms. Kratzer said. “The value of that kind of connection.”
The start of a new school year means establishing a learning environment rooted in a sense of cooperation between classmates through teamwork exercises. Once students understand that it is okay to be competitive, but that it must be done respectfully, sports and other physical education activities are introduced to the students.
Ms. Kratzer plays a significant role in supporting the students at Sage Ridge School. When asked how the Sage Ridge community can play a part in championing our Scorpions, Ms. Kratzer emphasizes engagement.
"Continue to provide opportunity and support. Go to watch their games. Ask them about things they are doing in school. Ask them about things they’re doing outside of school. Encourage them.”
Ms. Kratzer is a pillar of the Sage Ridge community, and "community" happens to be her favorite of the five Sage Ridge pillars.
"The pillar that keeps me most engaged is community because the families are so wonderful,” Ms. Kratzer said. “We’ve had so many amazing teachers come through here and this place itself. It is so different. I think community is what it is all about and what makes Sage Ridge so special.”
Ms. Kratzer is guiding Scorpions not only in physical education class but also as the Varsity Girls Golf Coach and as the leader of the international Sage Session trips. In spring 2023, Ms. Kratzer and Ms. Lopez traveled and led a study abroad in Spain with 28 Sage Ridge students in grades 8-11.
"Even with that range of ages, the trip worked really well because, at Sage Ridge, the kids have exposure to each other and know the kids outside of their grade,” Ms. Kratzer said. “It is why things like Scorpions Teams are so important because it really builds that connection.”
In May 2024, during Sage Session, Ms. Kratzer and Ms. Lopez will be taking students in grades 8-11 enrolled in the international trip to London, Paris, and Rome. Ms. Kratzer loves to travel and has also been a chaperone for many Outdoor Education Week trips. Some of her favorite Sage Ridge memories include Outdoor Ed Week trips with “serious all-week backpacking” where “everything you need is on your back.”
What motivates Ms. Kratzer, a teacher who motivates so many students and faculty?
"I think just women in general. Women who have really broken through the barrier of stereotypes,” Ms. Kratzer said. “Healthy, strong, and independent women.”
And the soon-to-open Student Activity Center.
"It’s just a reflection of 25 years, the new building,” Ms. Kratzer said. “There has been so much that has happened here in 25 years.”