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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — School districts across the region name them every year…those special men and women who deserve Teacher of the Year honors.

Visit any one of them in their classroom, and it’s easy to see the passion they all share.

And those successful teachers also are quick to share the credit for their success with family, friends, co-workers and students.

For as long as she can remember, Tara Harris has always wanted to be a teacher.

“I was the kind of little girl that we played school and I had my dolls as my students. I grew up with my mom as a teacher, too,” noted Harris, who recently was named Tupelo’s Teacher of the Year.

She began her career as an educator 14 years ago and has been teaching the gifted class at Thomas Street Elementary for the past eight years.

She says it is rewarding helping students realize and achieve their potential. Throughout the week, she works with a group of about 45 students. She sees a different group each day.

Harris is hands-on when it comes to classroom instruction time. She says several factors are critical to her success, such as a strong support system from coworkers, friends and family.

“Also, loving what you do, and being motivated. I’ve always been kind of self-motivated. I consider myself to be a hard worker I try and give 100 percent in everything I do,” she says.

Fellow second-grade teacher Jeri Chandler says she was not surprised when Harris was named Teacher of the Year.

“She has a good heart, she cares for the children, she’s a team player, she works with everyone, she does what she believes is right for the kids, she’s very involved with what’s going on in the regular classrooms,” Chandler said of her coworker.

Students give Tupelo’s top educator high marks.

“She’s very nice and sweet to children and she tries to help in all the ways she can,” said second-grader Lilly Rulewicz.

“She helps us learn about math and language,” added fellow second-grader Takehiro Yamashita.

For Harris, being named teacher of the year won’t change how she operates.

“It will just give me more motivation to do, continue to do my best and seek ways I can maybe a help and support to other teachers,” she said.

Her attitude, work ethic and passion for her role has impacted one of her students, who says Harris is a role model for a future career choice.

“Teacher,” students respond when asked what they want to be when they grow up.

The Association for Excellence in Education awarded Harris $1,000 for being named “Teacher of the Year.”


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