Columbia, S.C. – State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman surprised Hand Middle School teacher, Robert Harris, at his school today with news that he has been selected as one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
“Robert is the proud product of Richland One schools and strives to identify and connect with his students to promote their learning,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “In just a short time in the classroom, he has exhibited dedication and commitment to instruction that are models for the state.”
Robert Harris is a 6th- 8th grade Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Hand Middle School in Richland County School District One. Robert is a community minded educator who hopes to encourage his students to a live a productive and fulfilling life in which they can impact their communities. He views his students “as members of a “learning team” and him as their coach. His classroom is an innovation center and he is its facilitator. This can been seen in his students’ projects which include a mock Cupcake Wars project and a restaurant where students partnered with an English Language Arts class to develop business plans. His students’ restaurant project allowed his class to collaborate with several restaurant managers, business owners, and bank officials from their local community. Beyond his classroom Robert serves as a mentor and leader by organizing numerous district and statewide events to include a district teacher forum and “Profound Gentleman Recruitment Day” which recruits aspiring African American male educators for the classroom. He was also named the “Palmetto Citizens Youth Financial Educator of the Year.”
“Robert realized that teaching was his calling and passion while he was a student at Lower Richland High School. He reached his goal of becoming a teacher and we are so proud that he chose to give back to the district that educated him,” said Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon. “Robert is an outstanding, enthusiastic teacher who guides and encourages his students, inside and outside of the classroom, to work hard to achieve their own goals. The entire Richland One family is excited that he has been named a finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year. Robert represents our district with distinction, and we know that he would be an excellent ambassador for the Palmetto State and help to inspire more students to pursue careers in teaching.”
As one of five finalists, Harris will receive $10,000 and go on to the next stage of competition which involves an in-person interview with a team of expert judges. The South Carolina Teacher of the Year Gala will be held May 2nd in Columbia where the overall winner will be crowned.
The winner receives a total of $25,000 and is provided with a brand new BMW to use while serving for one year as a roving ambassador providing mentoring, attending speaking engagements, working with teacher cadets and teaching fellows, leading the State Teacher Forum, and serving as the state spokesperson for over 48,000 educators.
The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on the district, state, and national level. The Teacher of the Year Awards not only assists in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool to the educator profession.
Learn more about The Teacher of the Year program here.