College View High School’s animation and yearbook teacher Kimberly Rife works closely with her mother, Ann Rife — so closely, in fact, that they have the same north-facing view of the vast sky and the Texas A&M golf course.
Ann Rife, who teaches art at CVHS, and her daughter both work, they said, to help students explore their imaginative and inventive capabilities. Both educators describe CVHS as having a “more personal” family atmosphere — staff and students refer to the community as “The Wolfpack” — and for them, family and education go hand-in-hand.
“I knew I wanted to do something in education because her mom was a counselor and a teacher, and my grandfather was in education, too,” said Kimberly, 29. “I went that route because of family.”
“As far as working together goes, we weren’t expecting to ever do that. [Kimberly’s] classroom is right there, which is a complete fluke,” Ann, 64, said, pointing toward the room and laughing along with her daughter in the school’s art studio last week.
Ann Rife said she has been a professional artist for most of her career and got certified to teach about a decade ago. She worked in Houston for advertising agencies and other corporate entities before she and her family moved to Bryan-College Station about 25 years ago.
“I started my career wanting to go into teaching, then went into the corporate world before I came back around,” Ann Rife said. “Teaching is in the family.”
Working in creative fields, both teachers said that the students they work with come in with a wide range of prior knowledge or skill sets.
“Some of the students come into the Animation 1 class with computers and technology [knowledge], while others don’t know much about them,” Kimberly said. “It’s great, because some Animation 2 students will help out with Animation 1’s students. That’s a really good way to learn — by teaching.
“I also give them the time and the nourishment they need to learn in Animation 1,” she added, saying that some students come in doubting their ability to create.
“Our goal is to pull out the best in each of them, because it’s there,” Ann said.
CVHS principal Justin Grimes said both teachers set high expectations while fostering space and opportunities for connection.
“The strengths they both bring to the table is that both of them have the ‘it’ factor,” Grimes said. “They have the innate ability to connect with every kid in their classrooms — and through that connection, that gives them the platform to push kids to levels of excellence that most people can’t get to.”
College View High School has 87 students and is an alternative, accelerated-model school, Grimes said. Some of its students partner with Blinn College or TEEX Fire Academy for college credit and trade industry experience
“Our students have more autonomy as we intentionally try to create a more ‘college like’ environment,” the school’s website states.
“We really get to understand our kids and know every single one of them by name,” Kimberly said. Her mom quickly added, “That really helps know where they’re coming from, their families and what their challenges are.”
Ann Rife said that her daughter took five animation students to the state SkillsUSA competition earlier this school year, and they earned the school’s first trophy. Kimberly said students at the district-level event had six hours to create an animation with only a prompt.
“They turn the internet off and can only bring in sound files,” Kimberly said. “They have to do this 100 percent on their own. One of our groups got third place.”
The mother-daughter duo praised each other’s teaching styles and work.
“I’ve always admired her background in the business world and her ability to bring that here,” Kimberly said of her mother. “She leads a lot of projects that are completely original to her that she helps the students to work on.”
Ann complimented Kimberly’s knowledge of technology and her work as an assistant lecturer at Texas A&M.
“I’m proud of her work ethic and how much she puts into the job,” Ann said. “When we’re out of school, she’s thinking about things she can do to improve her lessons or try something new. She’s dedicated to her craft and wants to be better. I’m real proud of her.”
Grimes said both Rifes display an ability to adapt to what students need and what their interests are year after year.
“These two ladies are special to our Wolfpack, they’re special to our kids and they’re special to our culture and climate,” Grimes said. “I can’t say how grateful I am that they’re serving our campus and part of our family.”
Eagle staff writer Chelsea Katz contributed research to this article.