James Kenneth Inglebritson, long known simply as “Mr. I”, fifth-grade teacher at Evergreen Elementary, died July 30 after a long battle with cancer. He was 64 years old.
Inglebritson was born in Seattle Dec. 12, 1951 to Barbara Utterback and Kenneth Inglebritson. He graduated from Glacier High School in SeaTac in 1970, and went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree at The Evergreen State College and a master of arts in administration and curriculum at Gonzaga University.
Inglebritson came to Evergreen Elementary in 2002, where he taught fifth-graders for nearly 13 years and earned a reputation as a hardworking, innovative educator who liked to play the curmudgeon.
He wrote dozens of grants for literacy, art and science programs, giving students hands-on exposure to these subjects while exceeding state standards.
Inglebritson also raised thousands of dollars for Evergreen students to attend annual trips to Camp Seymour, the only opportunity many ever had for camp. He created a “classroom economy” including a student payroll for work completed, income tax, leases for desks, bonuses and fines.
Inglebritson inspired and required students to engage in the world around them, whether by tutoring preschoolers every week, or using their classroom money to “invest” in the stock market, or encouraging volunteer service. Former students still return to Evergreen reunions clutching the last of their Mr. I dollars.
Inglebritson had bus duty every morning for more than a decade, sporting his trademark sunglasses while greeting students by nickname and some wry, often pointed, encouragement. Nearly all Evergreen students got to know him as “Mr. I” this way, whether they were in his class or not. He even went so far as to refurbish the Evergreen Elementary School sign that still greets students today.
Inglebritson retired last spring after 26 years of teaching, less than three months before his death. He is survived by his wife, Olga; daughter Alia; son-in-law Wade; stepchildren Justine, Jeremy and Alexander; grandchildren Zerrick and Sophia; sister Tracey Dean; niece Danika and nephews Zak, Kolton and Jaxon. He will be missed and remembered by hundreds of students and by many more friends.