As a student, Randy Harrison struggled through high school. He says he knows how difficult the experience can be without the right support.
“High school’s tough,” said Harrison. “It’s not easy walking the halls for these kiddos, so they need someone in their corner. They need someone to go to bat for them.”
Harrison, KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week, is that someone at Dimond High School. He’s taught science there for two years.
“He likes to encourage us and push us to the limit and wants us to have a better education,” said Justin Casey, a ninth-grader.
To create a more inviting environment, Harrison’s classroom includes an ever-growing wall of artwork from his students.
“I want these kiddos to have a chance to express themselves,” said Harrison. “To create and enjoy school and feel like they’re in a place they’re comfortable speaking their minds and being themselves.”
With a spirited demeanor and vast knowledge of science, Harrison has a knack for helping his students connect to the subject matter and to him. He says that wasn’t necessarily the case when it came to some of his teachers when he was in school.
“A lot of them cared deeply for me and really tried to get on my level and help me out,” said Harrison. “I just don’t remember relating to them, and I feel like I have an opportunity to relate to these kiddos on their level. I think that they know that where I’m coming from is real, and the bottom line is I care for them.”
Becoming a science teacher wasn’t Harrison’s first career choice. After a brief stint in college, Harrison was compelled to join the U.S. Army following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. After a deployment to Iraq and returning home to Texas, he considered being a fireman. Harrison was then encouraged by his sister to become a teacher instead. Breezing through his science classes in college, he quickly learned which subject he was most passionate about.
Harrison taught science for five years in Texas before making the move to Dimond High School, where he is also a member of the school’s social and emotional learning (SEL) team.
Know a teacher making a difference in students’ lives? Nominate them for Teacher of the Week.