Farewell, Mr. Harris
The photograph above was published in the 1988-1989 Thorncreek Center School yearbook and shows Mr. Harry Harris at his desk in the junior high area. I remember standing in these lines and we each got our moment to talk with Mr. Harris and have our papers corrected or ask questions. This is also where we waited in line to recite our memorizations. Above, from left, is Monica Dahms, Adam Goss, Jessica Conley, Scott Schilling, Steven Beasley (partially hidden) and Shannon Wass. Below, a more recent photo of Mr. Harris.
Retrospective...by Jennifer Zartman Romano
As I sit typing at my computer tonight, I’ve got a lump in my throat.
There are certain educators that stand out in our minds – the ones who made learning fun and of whom you have memories that don’t fade as the years go by.
Moments ago, I learned that Harry Harris, one of my favorite junior high school teachers from Thorncreek, had passed away earlier today.
As I read the news, tears formed in my eyes. It is because of Mr. Harris that I learned the names of the presidents of the United States in chronological order, I learned to recite the Emancipation Proclamation word for word for extra credit and I learned who the Andrews Sisters were. I remember listening as he told us, in vivid detail, about the horror of Pearl Harbor and about the memorial to departed sailors there.
I also first heard the songs “Battle of New Orleans” and “Snoopy and The Red Baron” in his classroom at the top of the main stairs, down the hallway of lockers. In a classroom of giant drafting tables, I learned to use drafting tools correctly and how to use a protractor. Later, with Mr. Harris as our guide, we learned more complicated drafting on green screen Apple computers in Thorncreek’s “state of the art” computer lab. He wouldn’t accept second-rate work from us, ever.
I have some comical remembrances of him too. On one occasion, as I tried to craft some phrases from a German language dictionary and yell them to a friend across the crowded, noisy junior high hallway on the lower level hallway at Thorncreek – I remember the shocked look on Mr. Harris’s face as he came running over and informed me that I had just blurted out something obscene. He didn’t tell me what I’d said, but that I really, really should not repeat it again. I didn’t and I decided to learn Spanish after that incident.
After leaving Thorncreek, it was many years until I saw Mr. Harris again, but I never forgot what a great teacher he was.
The students of Faith Christian Academy were blessed to have known Mr. Harris in later years as he was a frequent volunteer at the school. While most of my favorite teachers either are or will be long retired by the time my children would be old enough to be in their classrooms – I felt it was quite special that because of Mr. Harris’s generosity in spending time as a volunteer at the school, both my son and I were able to know him as an educator.
Last spring, during the spring program for my son’s school, Faith Christian Academy, I walked in and sat down. To my delight, I was seated by Mr. Harris and had an opportunity to talk to him and to reminisce about some of the things about his classroom that stood out to me all these years later.
Teachers might not always know they’ve made a difference in the lives of their students. They might not realize that so many years later, something they said or did still matters. I am thankful that Mr. Harris was one of those special educators in my life.