Every day different for Inspire Academy’s teacher of the year

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 30, 2021

You never know what to expect in Jordan Harris’ agriscience classes at Inspire Academy. The day’s plans can change on a dime depending on what’s happening on Legacy Acres, which is a simulated workplace for students that’s run like a fully functioning farm.

Harris’ classes focus on production agriculture, so his students raise honey bees, work with livestock on campus, and spend some time every day in a greenhouse.

“In the spring, you may come in and we’re doing this one thing, and the next thing you know, we have to go help a goat that’s in labor and do something with that,” Harris said. “So you get to see the whole process, which I think is important.”

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Harris strives to promote hands-on learning. He recalled a quote he said might come from Benjamin Franklin.

“Tell me about it, and I’ll forget,” he said. “Show me, and I’ll remember for a little while. Involve me, and I’ll remember it forever.”

Harris’s students get involved in FFA, a student organization.

“My kids will tell you I like to compete, and I like to win, so that’s a fun aspect of it, getting kids ready, and they get to move on,” he said. “Especially with academic-based contests. There’s hundreds of contests. You can find something for every student to get involved in.”

Harris said he’s a very “student-first” kind of teacher. He believes that all students can learn and hopes his students see him as someone who believes in them.

He wasn’t expecting to be selected as Inspire Academy’s teacher of the year for 2022. He only learned this week that he won the title.

“Anytime you get recognition, it always comes as a surprise,” he said. “Especially this year, it was a lot different in that students and parents had input into it. In years past, lots of times, it’s been a faculty vote. Knowing that students and parents felt moved to nominate me made it pretty special.”

Harris said he believed that the title is part of a state-level contest. Each school selects a teacher, who then competes at the district level.

“And so it’s a big, long, drawn-out process,” he said. “I think the winner of the state goes on to compete for national teacher of the year.”

Harris has been teaching for seven years. He spent his first two years at W F Burns Middle School before transferring to Inspire Academy. He and Josh Bryan, an industrial agriculture teacher, worked together to make Inspire Academy’s agriculture program what it is.

Harris teaches 8th through 12th grade students.

“Some of these kids, I literally have all five years,” he said. “So, I get to watch them grow up, go through that middle school awkward stage, and then that high school stage where they start to see the world outside the four walls they’ve seen the whole time.”