Whoever thought their high school government class was one of the most boring subjects they ever took obviously didn’t have Mark Harris as a teacher.
Harris was named the William G. Thomas Outstanding Educator of the Year at the Louisa County Educator of the Year Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 8. He was one of six candidates for the honor.
“He’s very dedicated to his students. He pushes us to do our best in class and outside of class and he’s very concerned with our lives and well-being in and out of school,” said student Marissa Sperry. “He does his best to provide information about college and life after college. This is the class I enjoy the most the whole year.”
Harris didn’t become a teacher right away, despite that fact that he had a master’s in teaching. He spent most of his life in the retail industry. It wasn’t until he was age 40 that he decided to give teaching a try.
He began as a long-term substitute teacher at Louisa County High School in December of 2001, before then principal David Jeck offered him a full-time position.
Harris’s teacher’s certificate was nearing its expiration, and he wondered if he’d kick himself later if he turned it down, so he agreed. And today he admits it was one of the best decisions of his life.
“I haven’t looked back,” Harris said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
So have the students he’s taught over the years, who appreciate the energy and sense of humor that he brings to class with him every day.
“He’s really active. It’s more of a discussion class. He’ll give us a topic to talk about for the day. We’ll all have a conversation about it,” said Sperry. “He throws out random facts a lot. They usually stick with us. We’ve learned a lot. Even if it’s random.”
Harris loves working with young adults. He confides that if he had started out teaching at the age of 24, he may not have had the patience that he has today.
“I love working with them. I think if you treat them with respect and kindness, I think that they respond,” Harris said.
Read full story in the May 15, 2014 issue of The Central Virginian