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Patrice Harris

Elementary Librarian
Abington School District
Abington, PA

Where I've Been

I was born in Washington, D.C. I lived there until I graduated from high school and went to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Simmons College. Nursing was the career I carefully researched and chose at the age of 15. During my junior year I switched majors. I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Special Education and later attended the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, for a Masters degree.  I spent the last semester of library school in London, England as a visiting student at the Polytechnic Institute of North London taking a course in Children's Literature. As an added bonus, before leaving Europe, I participated in a 10 day European excursion. We traveled to Germany, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Paris was my favorite spot even though the visit was too short. I've had a lot of interesting life experiences, nothing without signification. I'm sharing some of the wonderful times, but I've also been shaped through many interesting hard knocks.

A most memorable time for me was when I traveled to Israel, Greece, and Egypt in the early 1980s. The greatest impact of the trip happened at the Wailing Wall. As we approached the Wall, a Power overshadowed us to such a degree that prayer was drawn out of us before we reached the wall. It was magnificent! A few days later when the tour guide reported that because we were ahead of schedule, we would  revisit one of our previous sites, my silent prayer was heard. We visited the Wall a second time!  It was awesome! Some years after the visit, there was an attack in Israel and people were killed at the Wall. To this day I cannot fathom how evil could even penetrate the glory and power that was manifest in that place.

My Life as an Educator

During my first few years of teaching, I had a military teaching style. I didn't feel that I had much of a choice. I barely cracked a smile until November. The primary reason for this rigidity was because I taught a special education class of students designated by behavioral problems.  Children were assigned to me who bragged about their exciting previous year throwing desks and fighting each other as well as the teacher. I wasn't interested in that kind of excitement and took great effort to ensure that it never occurred. I have great memories of those days.  When I finally got the chance to let my big laugh out, the children were shocked to say the least. I spent time teaching at the elementary, middle, and high school levels before I resigned to pursue my graduate degree. I returned after two years. I don't know if there has ever been a time when I wasn't teaching. I tried several times to move on to other things and finally recognized and acknowledged teaching as a calling.

In recent times, because I provide service to the entire school population, I am pleasant, rather soft spoken, and I smile often. When I turn the volume up in my voice, everything stops. Voice volume is one of my class management tools although I rarely have to use it. One of my colleagues describes me as perky. "Perky Patrice". She knows I hate it, but I gracefully permit her indulgence. I've never liked that term because to me it denotes an air-head vibe, probably from my days of watching the perky actress on "Love Boat". (OOps! I'm carefully trying to take advantage of the cyberspace format and avoid dates) I prefer descriptions such as energetic, enthusiastic, lively, anything but perky.  Well maybe I'm being a little too hasty. I just looked up perky and one synonym given was saucy. Saucy. Hmm. I like the way that sounds.

I enjoy and appreciate children of all ages. However, if I could only teach one grade, I would probably choose 3rd or 4th grade. It is hard for me to pin down a favorite of anything. My favorite color, "bright colors"; favorite perfume, "light clean scents"; favorite food, "fruit"; favorite people, young people. No, not fickle. Just  peculiar and Saucy.  I'm a mixture of a little this and a little that. I'm not easily classified. That's why librarianship/teaching is the perfect field for me. There is so much to do, so little time, so much to learn, so much variety and never a dull moment.

Along with the management of the library, I have a full load of classes.   I'm usually able to do a few special projects every year such as, plays, reading competitions, and writing projects.

A teaching faux pas I experienced left me with a greater appreciation for the maturity of my 6th graders. It was Spring and we were reviewing the information literacy model, The Big Six". Maybe it was my Southern accent that caused that short i to sound like short e. I don't know. I can't explain it any other way. I paused to observe if anyone else had noticed. As my eyes scanned the group, the amused  smile lines on everyone's face, including the teacher's (the one who assigned me the perky label),  assured me they had. There were no loud guffaws. Those students were a real classy bunch. I continued the lesson.

When I'm Not Working

That is a difficult question because I'm always working. Someone once wrote a miscellaneous note about me and bet that I even work in my sleep. My daughter says I'm hyperactive. I know I would probably be better off without the coffee. I spend a lot of time with my 14 year old daughter, Aaris (pronounced "Heiress", female derivative of Aaron, "mountain mover", "full of faith", "full of wonder"). She is wonderful and I'm doing my best to help her remain so as I guide her through the teen wonder years. She is my only birth child. Marilyn, 28 is my godchild. Her birth mom is living in Spain. Marilyn has been married for three years. Since she has a terrific two year old, I am enjoying the pleasure of grand motherhood. Mia, the baby, calls me Tia, short for "Grand Tia".  Tia is Spanish for aunt.

I'm beginning to get back into my self as my daughter becomes more independent.  A little gardening, rest and relaxation with a good book, visiting with friends, or watching an old movie are some things I enjoy these days. As far as travel is concerned, I haven't gone beyond the shores of New Jersey in a very long time. I'm working on it. We're planning a trip to Spain next year.

Web Sites I Like

Currently, my favorite personal web sites are news oriented.  I'm on an education sabbatical and trying to keep abreast of world and national events. Also, my 82 year old mother lives in Washington, D.C. and likes to discuss articles that appear in the Washington Post. I need to stay prepared. My favorite list is a work in progress. I'm gaining a lot of useful tips from my cybermates.

  • The Big 6 An information and technology literacy model that helps students handle any problem, assignment, decision, or task.
  •  GeoBee Challenge A daily dose of geography smarts in 10 questions from the National Geographic Bee.
  • America's Library Discover stories from America's past presented by the Library of Congress.
  • The U.S. Mint Innovative  lessons on history and more through the use of coins.
  • New York Times for Kids An online current and special events news site for grades 3-12; updated weekdays during the school year.
  • National Geographic Kids An interactivie website with loads of information, games, puzzles, and videos on countries, animals, and more.
  • The White House for Kids An interesting site for information on presidents, government, and more.
  • The 50 States An informative and comprehensive site for research of the United States.

This is a personal homepage and doesn't represent the opinions of my school. Last updated on March 27, 2007.