Nature’s Standout Teachers
The Harris Center has been honoring local teachers with our “Educator of the Year” award every year since 1984. This special honor is presented to a different educator each year who exemplifies the best of teaching, along with a commitment to helping students appreciate and understand the natural world.
While it’s not possible to highlight every educator who has received this award over the past 36 years within the limited space on this webpage, each of the following recent awardees demonstrates what all of the honored teachers share: a love of teaching coupled with a love of nature.
Lori, who teaches 6th grade at South Meadow School (SMS), received the Educator of the Year award in 2017. She is an inspiring teacher with a unique ability to envision new possibilities and a willingness to dive into unknown territory. Her tireless dedication, infectious curiosity, and enthusiasm make her a standout in and outside the classroom.
“I’ve always loved to be outside. There is so much to enjoy, from observing plants and trees to looking for creatures great and small to observing the weather and the nuances of climate. School programs such as those supported by the Harris Center are sometimes the only exposure kids have to exploring and learning to love nature today.”
Lori was directly involved in working with Harris Center teacher-naturalist John Benjamin and Otter Book Farm’s Matthew Roy to revitalize the SMS greenhouse and school gardens as part of an extensive unit on sustainable food systems. She’s been working with the Harris Center for an impressive 19 years, sharing her love of the natural world with hundreds of young people.
Claudia was recognized as the Harris Center Educator of the Year in 2018. She teaches 5th and 6th grade at the Wells Memorial School in Harrisville and shares a long history with the Harris Center, going back to 1988. From interning with us as a graduate student at Antioch University New England, to becoming our summer camp director and then one of our teacher-naturalists, Claudia is beloved by many Harris Center children, students, and friends. Claudia remarked,
“It has been a great joy to be associated with the Harris Center’s values and mission from the early days of my career as a teacher-naturalist and director of Wol’s Nest to my current work partnering with the Harris Center to bring place based learning and projects to my 5/6 class. As I have watched the students and campers I worked with early on grow into young adults working in environmental fields and advocating for environmental causes, it is clear to me what the impact of the Harris Center’s education programs has been.”
At the Wells Memorial School, Claudia collaborated with Harris Center teacher-naturalist Jenna Spear on a variety of projects, including a bee curriculum that led to the creation of a new bee habitat on the school grounds. Claudia embodies Harris Center values and is skilled at creating surprising, playful, and memorable experiences for children in the outdoors.
Harris Center Educator of the Year in 2019, Morgan teaches 4th and 5th grade at Jaffrey Grade School (JGS). She has been a teacher for 31 years, and works with Harris Center teacher-naturalist Jaime Hutchinson on outdoor learning opportunities for her students. Morgan said,
“Living here with so many wonderful options within walking distance and fantastic resources has caused me to push more to be outside. I also am motivated by the research that says our children need more time outside with free play and investigation. Given the time and opportunity, they never cease to amaze me.”
Morgan was chosen for this award because of her exemplary commitment to incorporating outside time in her everyday classes. In addition, she has created monthly Outdoor Workshop and Learning (OWL) activities for her students at JGS, which are likely to happen anywhere from the JGS outdoor classroom to the playground to snow piles in the parking lot!
The recipient of our 50th Anniversary Educator of the Year award will be announced at our Annual Meeting on October 23, 2020.
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.