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New kindergarten teacher excited to start career at Jeannette McKee K-8

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Lauren Harris is surrounded by her kindergarten students at Jeannette McKee K-8.
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Kristie Linden | Trib Total Media
Lauren Harris is a new kindergarten teacher at Jeannette McKee K-8.

Lauren Harris is a brand-new teacher at Jeannette McKee K-8.

She has just graduated from St. Vincent College following her senior year, which she spent student teaching in Jeannette and landed her first teaching job here.

She couldn’t be happier.

“It is so much fun,” she said, brimming with excitement. “I learn something new every single day. It’s made me a better person. My patience has increased for sure. The kids have changed me.”

She lives in Greensburg and stayed fairly local for college, so when she picked Jeannette to do her student teaching, it was because she wanted to be here. Getting her first real job as a teacher in this district makes her feel that she was always meant to teach in this city.

“I love these kids. I love being here. There are some great kids here and I feel I belong here,” she said. “Jeannette was the best choice.”

Harris has always wanted to be a teacher ever since her kindergarten and first-grade teachers made such an impact on her. Now, teaching at that same grade level feels a bit like a dream come true.

“They (my teachers) always made me feel smart, made me feel that I would get there (even if) it took a while,” said Harris. “That’s the approach I take with my kids. It might take us a while to get there, but we’ll get there together.”

She had hoped to get a job at the kindergarten level and part of the reason is that the children “are so sweet and they say little things that make your day. I love their curiosity. They want to know about anything and everything.”

Simple discussions turn into “teachable moments,” Harris said, remembering a story about ice that turned into a talk about how dangerous it can be to walk on ice because it can break. The next day, a student repeated that lesson back to Harris and she likes seeing the students make those connections.

“It feels great when they get it,” she said.

“They get that smile on their face because they’re so proud.”

Her favorite moments of each day are when she is able to pull students out for small group work or even one-on-one time.

“I can see what makes them tick and incorporate that into the lessons or small group. One student loves football — that’s what he ‘gets’ and how he’s motivated.

“Soccer is big here in this class so I incorporate soccer and now they’re interested.”

She wants the parents of her students to know that she believes every single child can learn and will learn, even if they learn differently.

“That’s my job, to make learning possible for them,” she said. “I’m very giving, very patient and very determined.”

Outside of work, Harris lives with her parents, Patricia and Burton Harris, and her younger sister, Jessica. She enjoys reading works of fiction and likes to go shopping. Harris enjoys being crafty and likes scrapbooking.

Her biggest influence has been her entire family, including her grandmother Carrietta Berger, who lives next door.

“They all inspire me to do what I want and to follow my dreams. They never once told me not to do it,” she said.

For Harris, that dream has always been to become a teacher.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Harris said, looking around her colorful classroom that was decorated with the help of her family. “Everything I worked for in high school and in college — it feels like it paid off. I’m where I want to be and I’m so happy.”

Look Who’s Teaching

Look Who’s Teaching is a recurring feature in The Jeannette Spirit, that will give readers a look at several teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels in the Jeannette School District each year.

Teachers are picked at random, by grade level and participation is voluntary. The Spirit hopes to introduce many teachers to the community throughout the school year.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 724-838-5154.

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