Teachers honor coworkers with nomination

Out of the 62 teachers and four counsellors that work at the high school, two employees have been recognized for their hard work and excellence and been named the high school’s Teacher of the Year nominees. They are world history teacher Michelle Taylor and now-retired counselor Dale Harris.

Each school in the district nominates one or two employees for this award, and even though neither received the award, they both feel honored to have been nominated.

“I was extremely surprised but honored,” Harris said.

To choose the high school’s Teacher of the Year nominees, a representative from the local teachers’ union passes around a ballot with all of the teachers’ names on it that have been teaching at the high school for at least three years. The teachers vote for their co-workers whom they believe deserve the award.

[Taylor and Harris are] both great candidates,” principal Justin Smith said. They both have tons of experience, both great examples of teachers that we have here at Duncan High School.”

Taylor will have been teaching at the high school for 35 years in January. Throughout the years she has taught different subjects, but currently she teaches world history, which she has taught for many years. Taylor was glad to be recognized by her co-workers as being a good teacher and thinks that they voted for her because of her influence on some of the younger teachers.

“I’d like to think that I have had a positive impact on some of our younger teachers, of which we have so many,” Taylor said. “So maybe I’ve said something appropriate or helped them along the way.”

But because her fellow teachers can’t actually experience her teaching, Taylor says that her validation also comes from how her students view her as a teacher.

One such student is sophomore Gabi Lopez. He is in Taylor’s world history and enjoys it.

“She’s a good teacher,” Lopez said. “She inspires students.”

He said that one part of her class that he really enjoys is when she talks about current events, and then compares them to history.

“I’d like them to be able to connect the dots between what happened, say, 400 years ago, and what’s happening today,” Taylor said.

Taylor also hopes to be a good influence on her students, even after they have left her class.

“Maybe they can gain something from what I have said that they can carry with them in the future and help them make a difference,” Taylor said.

Harris has been told that he has had a lasting impression on his students as well.

“The return of a few students over the years to express their appreciation of my efforts was memorable,” Harris said.

He has had many students over his 29 years of teaching and counseling. Harris believes that his coworkers partly nominated him for that experience.

“My colleagues appreciated my longevity and my efforts to help all students,” he said.

Smith liked that Harris cared so much for his students.

“Coach Harris has a heart for kids,” Smith said. “Having been a counselor for most of his career, he knows how to talk to kids and find out what may be bothering them and just wants the best for all kids.”  

Harris retired in November of this year, but there are things that he learned as a counselor that he will use in his retirement.

“Believing that people can change, despite its difficulties, is useful throughout one’s life,” he said.