2020 PRSD Edwin Parr Nominee Michael Harrison |

2020 PRSD Edwin Parr Nominee Michael Harrison

Watch the video of Michael Harrision here: https://youtu.be/E5NQWvyrdB4

The saying “all the stars aligned” is very fitting for the story of how Michael Harrison found his way into the classroom. What had started as a passion for chemistry and science led to a calling to share that passion of the ‘beautiful world’ with others.

In his second year of university, Harrison’s plan was to focus on chemistry research. At the time he knew he loved science but wasn’t sure how it would fit into his overall career. That same year, he also decided to try an introductory course in education and it all connected from there. In his first year of teaching, Harrison was hired as the full-time science teacher at South Central High School in Oyen; a role that allows him to combine his love of science with the rewards of teaching.

“I personally enjoy working with older students,” says Harrison. “I love the course material and experiments that come with the higher-level science courses. No two days or two concepts are alike. It’s exciting to come to school each day and see what the day has in store.”

Harrison’s teaching portfolio includes all high school levels of science including biology, chemistry and physics. It’s a combination that South Central High School principal Jean Kimber says is no easy task.

“I nominated Michael for the Edwin Parr award because he is such a hard worker and he takes it to the next level,” says Kimber. “In a small school we need someone who can teach more than just one subject and Michael can do that. He is also very dedicated. It’s not uncommon to hear that he started work at 4:30 that morning to prepare his lesson or plan for an upcoming lab.”

While working in a small high school allows Harrison the opportunity to make strong connections with each of his students there are challenges as well, especially when it comes ensuring the labs he plans will work as anticipated.

“Small school science labs are not set up like those in the big cities,” says Harrison. “There’s a lot of trial and error, so I’m always trying to anticipate what the students need. Teaching for me isn’t just about the lesson and the material.  I often come in early, so I can anticipate the concepts my students might struggle with or that won’t work with the tools we have. It’s important to me that I have worked through those challenges myself, so I am prepared to help my students do the same.”

“Based on his own experience in science, Mr. Harrison knows the benefit of hands on learning and makes huge efforts for his students to experience it too,” says Kimber. “Every week he ensures each of his classes participate in a lab. This is how he helps his students make connections from the material to their application in the real world.”

The Prairie Rose Board would like to congratulate Michael Harrison on his Edwin Parr award nomination and wish him success at the Zone 6 Alberta School Boards’ Association competition. The winner will be announced in mid-May.