Carol Harris joined the Carson School District 30 years ago as a math teacher at Carson Junior High.
Now, as the coordinator for the district's professional development center, she finds herself teaching not teenagers, but teachers and administrators.
"I miss the kids," she said. "I truly love kids of all ages, (but) my job here is to support the teachers to be the best teachers they can be."
The Carson City School District chose Harris as the school district's educator of the year. Nominees came from each of the school sites and from student support services, of which the professional development center is a part.
Top among the programs that Harris started when she was hired 10 years ago as the center's coordinator are the new-teacher mentor program and the bilingual teacher education program.
In the first, experienced teachers at each school meet with new teachers on a regular basis. In the second, special-education or bilingual aides receive support from the school district to become teachers.
"She reaches so many children by teaching the teachers," said Ruth Aberasturi, director of student support services and the person who nominated Harris. "She's not an evaluator, which she makes very clear. I have seen her work with many principals who have said afterward, 'I never thought of doing it that way.'"
Harris also spends time at the beginning of each school year working with the newly hired teachers. Last year, that was 45. This year, Harris believes there will be more judging from the number of positions that need to be filled.
Six years ago, one of those new teachers was Patt Quinn-Davis, now the journalism and yearbook teacher at Carson High School.
"I just think the world of (Carol)," Quinn-Davis said. "Her ability to understand what a new teacher is going through and to provide the tools that a teacher can use in the classroom real fast were always things that I appreciated about her."
Quinn-Davis still uses Harris' tips about seating students in natural groups instead of alphabetically.
"I've taken classes from her since and what I love is that what she shows me one day, I can use the next." she said. "I bet you other teachers will say this too - she made me feel like I could do it."
Harris works in the Gleason Building on Musser Street and uses two of the building's classrooms for training staff. However, the whole district is her classroom and she spends much time one-on-one with teachers using cognitive coaching, which allows teachers to think critically about their classroom skills.
"For her to be in a position of teaching teachers, I can't imagine is always a real easy thing to do," Quinn-Davis said. "Sometimes you're not always appreciated when you're among your own. To have her be as effective as she is, is just really neat."
Harris grew up in Detroit, and taught in an inner-city school for four years, moving here when her husband was hired to work for the Desert Research Institute.
"I was very surprised to win," she said. "The teachers who were nominated are unbelievable and are doing so much for their kids. Every person they honored (at the school board meeting) I thought was going to win."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.
Educator of the year nominees,
one from each school
• Pat Quinn-Davis, Carson High
• Phyllis Atkinson, Carson Middle
• Amanda Pickrell, Eagle Valley Middle
• Carrie Butler, Bordewich-Bray Elementary
• Linda King, Empire Elementary
• Kevin Ellis, Fremont Elementary
• Dianne Hale, Fritsch Elementary
• Christi Schmid, Mark Twain Elementary
• Elizabeth Beltrami, Seeliger Elementary