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We asked our award winners questions to describe what thier award means to them and what advice would they give to new educators and staff beginning their journey.

For our second interview, we spoke with Champion in Education Award Winner, Mary Harmon.

What’s your title and school location?


Henry F. Kammann Elementary School

How many years of teaching?

11 years

What brought you to Salinas City Elementary School District?

In 2005, while volunteer in my daughter’s fourth grade class retiree Cheryl Mattison pulled me aside and told me I was in the wrong profession and that I needed to get my teaching credential. I thought about it and within a week quit my job and went to CSUMB. As soon as I was done with all my classes and state test, I knew where I belonged. I interview at the school that started off my career and I’m still there.

What keeps you motivated and inspired on a dialy basis?

My students past and present inspire me daily. I know my students love to come to school because their parents tell me and I feel I need to be there for them. I just love to show them their potential and find out what works for them to learn best. Everyone learns differently and it is up to me as their teacher to find out how they learn effectively and push them to be all they can be. I’m so motivated when I hear a struggling student say I got it and I don’t need help. Can I help someone else?

What does your award mean to you?

The award was a nice surprise that so many people felt I desired an award. Truly, I love my students and helping them all reach their potential is the award that means the most to me.

What is the most gratifying thing about your job?

There is nothing more rewarding than knowing and seeing the evidence that I’ve made an impact on someone’s life or multiple lives. I sometimes cannot physically see the appreciation or the impact I’ve made right away on a student’s life. When they return to see me and tell me that my classroom change their lives for the better. My heart just melts for them.

Any advice for new educators?

When you are a teacher, you teach beyond the textbooks. You teach children how to deal with their emotions, how to be independent and how to problem solve. Remember to celebrate big and small accomplishments throughout the day, week and school year. Don’t worry you don’t have to be perfect. The students will accept you as you are.