Mrs. Katie Harris, math teacher: 1,402,200 minutes teaching

Katie Harris

Donna Carraher. Bella Webb. Sheri Miller. Nancy Hastings. You may not have heard the names of these women before, but each of them had a profound impact on my decision to become a teacher. My first teacher, Donna Carraher, is not only my mother, but was a dedicated educator for over 40 years, serving underprivileged and communities in poverty. Bella Webb, fourth grade teacher at Elliott Elementary School, made her lessons exciting and fun, and encouraged me to create a presentation for the School Town of Munster School Board to allow future students to attend Camp Tecumseh each year. Sheri Miller, sixth grade English teacher, was so motivating that I finished the entire school years’ worth of spelling and vocabulary the first weekend we received our workbooks. And Nancy Hastings, journalism teacher at MHS, spent literally day and night challenging us to become creative thinkers, writers and leaders.

The voices of these women carried with me as I began college. Starting out at Indiana University as a direct admit to the Kelley School of Business, I found out rather quickly that it wasn’t for me. I had a realization, in my dorm room at Teter Hall, that I should pursue my passion for teaching and working with kids. I was nervous about signing up for a career that didn’t exactly pay the bills easily, but I knew in my bones it was what I wanted to do. Next month will be 20 years since I graduated. Although public education continues to take major hits and those bills are not as easy to pay as they would have been if I stuck with Kelley, I am privileged to work with my students every day. Working with my department and educators across Indiana is another passion of mine, to develop our craft, impact student learning and serve our community.

On my whiteboard is a quote from “Hidden Figures,” a powerful film about mathematics, equality and the hero women who fought for equal pay and representation in STEM: “There’s only one thing to do: Learn all we can. Make ourselves valuable.” Great teachers poured into me the love of learning, and I hope to emulate their legacy with my own students.