Special to The Greenup Beacon
Some educators dedicate their entire lives to their students. Julie Harris, librarian at Raceland-Worthington High School is no different. She has been teaching for 41 years, 38 of which were spent with Raceland Independent Schools.
Harris is a native of Sioux City, Iowa and graduated from Maple Heights High School, a suburb of Cleveland.
Following high school, Harris attended the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio with a Bachelor of Elementary Education in 1974.
In 1981, Harris graduated from Morehead State University with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.
The following year, she completed a Library Science Certification from Marshall University.
Her final degree was a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Kentucky in 1984. She began her teaching career in Ohio and after three years, moved to Raceland.
Harris spent 17 years as an elementary school teacher. She taught 4th grade for 9 years, 2nd grade for 6 years, 6th grade for one year and 3rd grade for one year.
While teaching elementary school, Harris organized a school wide Presidential election voting booth where all students in the school participated in the voting procedure.
Harris set up a classroom auction where she collected donations from local businesses to give students as a reward during each grading period.
Harris was the yearbook advisor at Worthington and Campbell Elementary Schools for six years. Harris also made a Morehead State University produced video on her classroom teaching techniques when using the newspaper in the classroom.
This was a video used in the undergraduate and graduate level classes to provide examples of excellent teaching.
Also during her time teaching elementary school, Harris served on many curriculum committees to create reading, language arts, and math curriculum guides.
She has also been a mentor for 10 years to first year teachers in the Raceland school district and other local school district. One of Harris’s interns is the Raceland-Worthington superintendent, Larry Coldiron.
In addition to all of these activities, she worked part-time at a college and local public library.
After working at the elementary school level, Harris became the Raceland High School Library Media Specialist and has maintained this position for the past 24 years.
During this time, Harris became a published author for many national education journals and magazines.
She organized and sponsored seven golf scrambles to raise money for the RWHS gold team and the senior class prom and breakfast.
Harris has contacted many local businesses for donations to reward students in her RTI groups who have made a good effort to complete their work.
She has fundraised with other teachers to raise money for the senior trip. Harris has attended many school library media special conferences and has been a mentor to 6 teachers for their certification as a school library media specialist.
Semi-annually, Harris collects free books from local public libraries to be added to the school libraries in the Raceland district.
Any books not used were donated to the Lion’s Club to be distributed to those in the community who need books.
Harris has a clear educational philosophy. “Students are my number one priority. For each child I have taught on the elementary level or worked with in the junior high/high school library, I have strived to prepare students for their present and future endeavors, practice being good citizens, and becoming well rounded, satisfied individuals.
“To the best of my ability, I worked to develop in each student basic academic skills, suitable work habits, and desirable attitudes and values. The satisfaction I have received over the years of watching my students learn and grow has given me many opportunities to experience the rewards associated with the teaching/library profession.”
“As a teacher and school library media specialist, I have had an awesome opportunity to teach and work with hundreds of students. Teaching is not simply a job… it is a special calling. Good teachers know that their students will only succeed to the extent that they are encouraged and that you believe in them.
“A teacher is passionate about children, learning and their subject matter. I remain enthusiastic about finding ways to ignite the spark of learning in each student, and I appreciate the differences in personalities and learning styles that existed in the classroom as well as in the school library media center.”
In a 1981 Greenup County News release, Harris was featured in an article called “Worthington Fourth Graders Find New Use for Newspapers.” She found a way to make newspapers an instructional tool for 8 and 9-year-old students.
In 2014, Harris was nominated for a national award. Many people wrote letters of recommendation, but one letter truly stands out.
“As a Principal and Superintendent, I could as no more than that which was given by Mrs. Harris as to taking on new challenges as the state assessment continues to evolve. She is a true asset to our district. I strongly recommend her for any award,” Larry Coldiron, Superintendent of Raceland-Worthington Independent Schools wrote.
After retirement, Harris plans to continue her passion for writing by submitting articles and other works to local and national journals.
Her passion for her students partnered with her hard work and intellect has made her and will continue to make her a wonderful role model, scholar, mentor and leader.
She is a truly wonderful woman who has made a large impact on her students and the teaching profession.