Harrison had planned to retire last year, but stayed as the school transitioned to a new principal.
“Because Mr. (Ted) Bryson retired last year, a lot of staff encouraged me to stay one more year, and Mr. Bryson asked me to stay,” Harrison said.
She said it is time to retire.
“Things are in good hands,” Harrison said.
Her retirement plans include cleaning out the papers and things she has accumulated as a teacher, and spending more time gardening.
She said she also wants to use the time to catch up on things she has been putting off.
Harrison said she chose a career in education because she loved to read and wanted to “work with kids and work with books.”
“I can read almost anything and enjoy it, and that’s what I try to tell my students,” Harrison said.
She said many of the students do not want her to leave.
Only one year was spent at another Bradley County school. This was spent teaching at Michigan Avenue Elementary School.
Harrison was named Teacher of the Year for fifth through eighth grades at a recent meeting of the Bradley County Board of Education.
“That was extremely gratifying,” Harrison said. “I just really couldn’t believe it.”
She said many times younger teachers are chosen for the honor and it is usually a classroom teacher, not a specialty area.
Her education career began in South Carolinia, where she worked for two years. After those two years, Harrison got married and the couple moved to Albany, Ga. There, her husband worked for M&M Mars.
It was M&M Mars opening a plant here that brought the couple to Cleveland, and Harrison accepted a job in the Bradley County School system. The majority of her time has been spent at Oak Grove.
“I think the thing that I enjoy most about it is being able to work with all the kids and seeing them grow up,” Harrison said. “In the library it’s different. I say it’s like being a grandparent.”
Harrison said she was able to watch the children grow from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade. The retiring educator said she is still in contact with her first principal from Oak Grove.
“Oak Grove has always been like a family,” Harrison said.
In South Carolinia, Harrison taught at one of the few departmentalized elementary schools.
“I was a part-time librarian and I also taught social studies and math,” Harrison said. “It was really unusual in those years for an elementary school to be compartmentalized.”
Many changes have come to education and to school libraries throughout Harrison’s career. Technology has been a large part of these changes.
Harrison said because technology changes so fast “it makes it very difficult for the school system to keep up.”
Recent changes in state standards and education have also been challenging.
“It’s an exciting time to be in education,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the TEAM evalution was a difficult change for teachers. She said she likes the Coach model that the school system switched to this year better.
Harrison’s last year as an educator saw her proctoring the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program for the first time.
Common Core standards are another change that began in her last year. Harrison said overall Common Core seemed like a good idea. However, she said the school system should implement it carefully.