BEHIND THE APPLE: Angel Harris, Fort Dorchester Elementary School
Angel Harris, 34, of Summerville, has an enormous grin and a sparkle in her eye. Teaching art to kindergarten, second, third, fourth and fifth graders at Fort Dorchester Elementary School, she has also added Technology Infusion to her repertoire.
She works with fourth and fifth grade teachers and students infusing technology into all their subjects including math, science, social studies and language arts.
She uses Power Point, Word, Excel as tools and also teach children how to properly use the Internet for research.
In her eighth year of teaching, Harris spent her first two years teaching in Chester. Six years ago she came to FDES.
However, Harris is a homegrown teacher, having grown up in the Dorchester District Two school system. She is a Summerville High School graduate, earning a BS in Graphic Design from Florida A & M, a Master’s in Art Education from Winthrop University and she is currently working on her EdD in instructional Technology and Distance Education.
Not busy enough teaching and working on her doctorate, she is also active as the Youth Art Month Coordinator for the SC Art Education Association Board, (she has coordinated a couple of state shows and the state flag contest), the Business Partners Committee at FDES, the School Improvement Council, the School Technology Committee and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., (a non-profit community service organization).
Harris is embarrassed being asked to list her accomplishments, and struggles to remember them.
“We have a wonderful fine arts department here,” she says, “and I love being in the classroom.”
FDES also has a teacher art club and it has a gallery on a back wall. “We get together, listen to music and create,” she says. “We try and relate our art to the school, and it helps us get closer as a faculty.”
Harris’ goal, she says, is to instruct technology. “I really feel that if you can start when children are in elementary school, you can give them a really firm foundation that will help them through the rest of their schooling.”
Although she might like to someday be the director of technology in the school, she is adamant that she still wants to be in the classroom.
“What I love about our tech program is that it isn’t just me teaching, but me working with the classroom teacher…there is a greater understanding of what they are teaching and vice versa.”
“I am fortunate to work in an environment where I am supported in and out of the classroom,” she says. “Whether it’s for a hug, to wipe a tear, or simply to listen, my principal is there. We have a great faculty and I am truly blessed to be a Gator.”
She is quick to note the irony in her path to teaching.
“I avoided teaching,” she laughs. “I have a background in graphic design but I discovered doing that wasn’t really making me happy.”
It was the wisdom of her grandfather that brought her to teaching.
“He asked me if money were not an object, what would I do?”
“I looked at my life and I realized there were two things I always found myself doing and really enjoyed … working with kids and art.”
“In high school I was a teacher cadet, I worked as a counselor after school and volunteered at church with kids.”
“My students make me laugh and keep me young,” she says.
This year, her fifth graders are the same children she had in Kindergarten, her first year of teaching.
“They know me and I know them and I think we are having an exciting year. If I am teaching something for the first time, I will tell them and they are very patient with me.”
Harris says she likes to try new and different things.
“Oh!” she says, startled, “I forgot! I was FDES Teacher of the Year for 2010/2011!”
Harris owns her own home and keeps “very busy.”
“I hope one day to marry and have children,” she smiles, “but right now I have 400 kids.”
When not teaching, or doing committee work, Harris says she loves to travel. “It’s my thing in the summer.”
She says she and her friends from high school have recently been to Las Vegas, New Orleans and Myrtle Beach. She says she hasn’t been overseas yet, but has “big Plans!”
She also enjoys playing Wii, reading and, although she admits she doesn’t like to cook, she has set an ambitious goal for herself to learn to cook.
“I have a goal for myself to learn one or two recipes a month…something new.”
Oh, and she’s a “huge” college football fan.
“My family is originally from Mobile, AL and when football season starts….”
She says her family all gathers at her parents’ house to watch football decked out in football regalia.
Harris is the oldest of three and, she says, comes from a family of life-long learners. Her grandmother, mother and many others in her family are teachers. In fact, she says, her mother and brother work in the district. She says her sister, who is a scientist and volunteers with a group of FDES young scientists, will “someday be a teacher, she just doesn’t know it yet….”
She says she loves movies and live concerts and puzzles and games. “I have a really bad sweet tooth, too,” she says.
Harris says she is normally shy and reserved until you get to know her. Her family says she is much sillier than most.
“I love to laugh.”
“Some days I am exhausted, but I love it.”