Hand Middle School teacher Robert Harris has been named one of five finalists for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year award.
Harris teaches family and consumer sciences to grades six through eight at the Richland County District One school. He stresses community involvement and innovation in his classroom through projects such as a mock restaurant opening in which his students developed business plans by working with area restaurant managers, business owners and bank representatives.
“Robert is the proud product of Richland One schools and strives to identify and connect with his students to promote their learning,” State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a statement. “In just a short time in the classroom, he has exhibited dedication and commitment to instruction that are models for the state.”
Harris has also organized district and statewide events, including “Profound Gentleman Recruitment Day,” which recruits aspiring African-American male educators.
Harris receives $10,000 and advances to an in-person interview with a team of judges.
The teacher of the year will be announced at a gala on May 2 in Columbia. The winner will receive $25,000 and serve as an ambassador for the state’s 48,000-plus educators.
“Robert realized that teaching was his calling and passion while he was a student at Lower Richland High School. He reached his goal of becoming a teacher and we are so proud that he chose to give back to the district that educated him,” said Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon. “Robert is an outstanding, enthusiastic teacher who guides and encourages his students, inside and outside of the classroom, to work hard to achieve their own goals. The entire Richland One family is excited that he has been named a finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year.”