Henrico County VA

Henrico’s Top Teachers – Kara Harrison

Dumabrton E.S., fifth grade
As a young child, Kara Beth Harrison was greatly influenced not only by the special teachers she had in the Salem City School system – "too many to name," she said – but also by her mother's passion for teaching.

"She loved her job," said Harrison of her mother. "She always had positive things to say about being a teacher."

As a teacher of special needs children who often have behavioral issues as well as a limited command of English, Harrison works with some of the most difficult children a teacher can have -- yet she easily relates to her mother.

In addition to enjoying her teacher-student relationships, and the challenges of motivating children to try their best, Harrison enjoys working with her colleagues.

"I am extremely lucky to have leadership in my school that supports its teachers 100 percent," said Harrison. "I come to school with a smile on my face knowing that my colleagues are there for me if I need help coming up with a new idea, a problem I can’t solve, or just for advice."

An observer who nominated Harrison praised her ability to get through to students that other teachers have difficulty handling. To help her students build self-confidence and acquire skills that may be lacking due to their family situations, Harrison spends extra time with them – often joining in their extracurricular activities such as running races. When some of her students lack the mental capability to move at the pace of the class, she helps them with studies during lunch or after school and "makes them feel as equals," says her admirer.

"Kara shows a constant awareness to the needs of these children and creates the discipline they lack in their home life," added her nominator, noting that she focuses on goals such as ensuring the children learn to listen and show respect for elders. "She sacrifices any free time during the day to put more time into the needs of her children. She always feels there is never enough time in the day in order to ensure the child is prepared for the future task that lie ahead."

Harrison finds her reward in striving to "make each day meaningful" for her students and in getting through to even the most recalcitrant students. One of her most memorable moments as a teacher, she says, occurred at the start of her first year teaching fifth grade,

"A young lady walked into my room [who] had a lot on her mind. She was very angry and frustrated, and had given up on school," Harrison recalled. "She would not speak to me, or even attempt her work for the first few weeks of school."

After many weeks of encouraging the student while puzzling over how to help her, Harrison was able to coax a few words out of her, and the girl began making attempts at her work. Before long, another breakthrough came in the way of a big smile; and by the end of the year, the formerly silent, sulky student had become an active participant in the classroom.

"I will never forget that brave girl," said Harrison. "That moment reminded my why I became a teacher in the first place. Making a difference and making a connection make it all worthwhile."

Harrison's nominator marveled that this teacher not only manages to succeed with hard-to-handle children, but that "she does this for pennies like any other teacher.

"Individuals such as Kara Beth Harrison are often overlooked in our society," summed up her nominator, "but without these individuals people like you or me may have not made it to where we are today."
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Varina Ruritans honor police, fire officials and community members

The Varina Ruritan Club celebrated its 80th anniversary with a banquet Nov. 10, during which it presented several annual awards, including Policeman of the Year – to Henrico Officer Aaron M. Lancaster (top) – and Firefighter of the Year – to Julian T. Lipscomb (second from top).

The club also received a plaque from the Henrico Division of Fire (third from top) expressing the division's appreciation for the club and its support of fire prevention programs. > Read more.

The Rink to open at WBV Nov. 14

The grand opening of The Rink outdoor ice skating rink at West Broad Village will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, beginning at 11 a.m. with skating and family activities. At 4 p.m., grand opening festivities – featuring exhibitions of ice sculpting, ice skating and cheering, as well as fire pits, costumed characters, and food vendors – will begin. Skating costs are $8 for children and $10 for adults, with $4 skate rentals available. Parking is free. The Rink is located at 3939 Duckling Drive, Glen Allen. For details, visit http://www.Facebook.com/TheRinkWBV > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.


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Henrico's Top Teachers

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