Teacher Feature: Karen Harris



Karen Harris, an English teacher, teaches in the School Within a School (SWS) program.

Tina Little, Staff Writer

Have you ever wanted to take a class like Friendship in Literature or Spirituality in Literature? Well, both of these theme-based classes are taught by School Within a School (SWS) teacher Karen Harris.

Many students think Harris is a skillful teacher because she engages her students through thoughtful and in-depth class discussions.

One of the things that helps make Harris an interesting teacher is the fact she enjoys working in the SWS community. She said that in her English classes, she likes the idea of students working together when learning.

“You’re trying to solve problems collaboratively and you get to read with people,” Harris said. “I think especially with difficult texts or with many worthwhile texts that are difficult, to be able to come in and have a mind-meld about that is a really wonderful thing.”

Senior Clara Levrero said that Harris is a very kind and understanding person, which adds to the comfortable atmosphere.

“That automatically translates to the classroom and makes for a nice environment,” Levrero said.

According to sophomore Julianna Watson, Harris’s sweet and caring personality contributed to a good class dynamic.

“She created an environment where we were mainly learning from each other,” Watson said.

Levero said that even though SWS classes are commonly very discussion-based, Harris does a good job of creating interesting conversations.

“She’s really smart so she always brings up really cool perspectives with how to approach books and discussions,” Levrero said.

Additionally, Watson said she enjoyed the community and there was a good class dynamic.

“Everyone would go out of their way outside of class to learn more about what we were talking about,” Watson said. “We would continue our discussions after class.”

Harris worked at Watertown High School for 12 years and started teaching in SWS 15 years ago.

“It’s just amazing,” Harris said. “I don’t think I really teach any differently here than I did with my other job in Watertown to be quite frank.”

According to Harris, she loves the community and the idea that the staff gets to meet and talk about all the SWS students, without letting anyone fall through the cracks.

“You see your students more than you sometimes see your family,” Harris said. “I love teaching in general but that’s even more magnified in SWS where you get a lot of down time with your students with just any incidental thing.”

Harris said she is drawn to English because it relates to larger concepts.

“It’s just a rewarding thing because you end up talking about the literature but as a way of talking about life,” Harris said.

According to Levrero, Harris relies on the students to make a classroom they want to be in.

“She does a lot, but in the actual classroom experience she really pushes you to be a good participant,” Levrero said.

Harris said she is well supported at the high school and that’s part of doing a good job.

“Same thing with the students,” Harris said. “If you feel like a teacher believes in you and thinks you’re a badass, don’t you think you did well?”