School: Holland Elementary
Grade/subject teaching: Third grade
Education: California State University San Bernardino, bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts/business administration; Upper Iowa University, bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, minor in English/language arts; Indiana Wesleyan University, master’s degree in education expected April 2013.
Years teaching: Nine
City born: Colorado Springs, Colo. (Air Force Academy)
City raised: Cheboygan, Mich.
Current hometown: Fort Wayne
Family: Married, Thomas; daughters, Lindsey, Kassidy and Chloe
Last book read: Gonalls by Alisa Griffis
Favorite teacher: Mr. Olmstead, Cheboygan High School, guidance counselor
Favorite class in school: Band (flute)
Favorite teaching memory: Every teacher lives for the moment when they see the light bulb go off in a student’s mind, but I also love being able to share learning experiences with students that they otherwise might never have. Field trips offer a unique opportunity to do that. This year I had a young girl move in from Yemen. She did not speak one word of English when she arrived. Watching the excitement in her eyes as she got to see, feel and touch all the things at Salomon Farm Park that she may never have done otherwise was a thrill for me. It’s memories like those that I will cherish forever.
What has been the key to overcoming the challenges your class has faced this year? My class has faced horrific challenges this year with the loss of Aliahna Lemmon. We talked about it, read books and learned that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. We have learned to find the sweet in the sadness and it has made us better friends as a result. The key to overcoming our challenges has been prayer. Prayers from parents, staff, friends and strangers. God’s grace has gotten us through. Thank you for the prayers.
Nominated by: Elizabeth Rayl
Reason for nomination: Mrs. Harris is my daughter’s teacher and she has been amazing. With the passing of her student Aliahna Lemmon, she has had to help 27 kids cope with a huge loss while dealing with it herself. She has created an environment where the kids can feel safe again at school. There are still days they struggle, but they know they are not alone. They can talk to her anytime, about anything. She has found a way to keep the kids on track with their learning through such a tough time. I couldn’t imagine a better teacher to help their students through such a tragedy. She deserves every single warm hug she gets daily from her students.
– Devon Haynie