Students, parents and colleagues applaud third-grade teacher Carrie Harper for the effective and creative ways she infuses her love of learning into the whole Sunnyside Elementary community. Parents remark how impressed they are with Harper’s vibrant, enthusiastic teaching. She plays to each student’s strengths and recognizes each child’s unique way of learning.
High praise indeed for someone who has only been teaching for six years. However, Harper is one who sets her eyes on a goal and then seeks to exceed it. And she asks no less from her students. She develops learning rubrics with standards in mind, while students track their own progress and get continual feedback leading to the next level of achievement.
Harper cultivates a love for reading as a lifelong habit. Last year when she taught second grade, 83% of her students completed the literacy program, reading well over 3,000 minutes outside of the classroom. Research indicates that students who read at this level significantly outperform their peers who do not read at home. This achievement is especially important as Harper has been instrumental in Sunnyside’s compliance with the Colorado Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act, which focuses on early literacy development.
For Harper, it’s never too soon to teach life skills or get students thinking about their future. Partnering with local organizations, she’s invited guest experts from Pine River Valley Bank to talk about economics and math and from the Doubletree Hotel to teach recycling. When students read an article on air pollution in China, she created an interdisciplinary project in which students chose a plant or “created” a hybrid plant to reduce pollution. They even wrote letters to persuade China to give the plants a try!
Harper’s impact reaches beyond her own classroom. As a data team leader at Sunnyside, she helps to establish school assessments and provides professional development to colleagues in technology. Harper is enrolled in Fort Lewis College’s first cohort of students in the Master’s of Leadership program, emblematic of the focus on lifelong learning she instills in her own students.
The Durango Herald | Feb 05 , 2015 | Durango, CO