Congratulations to Chitra Harris on being chosen as one of seven recipients of the 2018 Kansas Master Teacher Award! Sponsored by Emporia State University, the Kansas Master Teacher Award recognizes teachers who have served the profession long and well and who also typify the good qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers. Amount other things, Chitra will be recognized by the Kansas state legislature and receive a $1000 stipend she can use for professional learning!
Chitra Harris believes education should transcend national border. Combining teaching philosophies from the East and West, she incorporates hands-on, real world experiences into her classroom to promote new ways of thinking.
In 2007, Harris was challenged by her district to create a course in Forensic science. There were no textbooks available or guidelines for skills and competencies. Harris took on the challenge and has has nothing but success. “The excitement of discovering facts for themselves instead of having it explained to them is key in learning and also in retaining what they have learned,” said Harris.
Inquiry-based activities include labs on blood spatter analysis, the use of a comparison microscope, and ballistics – the latter a challenge she zero-tolerance policies prohibit guns or bullets in the school. Harris has now obtained permission – and grant funding – to introduce ballistics kit, along with trajectory measuring lasers and other tools in her classroom. When her students begged to put their skills to the test by solving a ‘real crime,’ Harris used foam spray, soil, and maggots to turn a plastic Halloween skeleton into what appeared to be a decomposing body.
A colleague describes Harris as a ‘trail blazer’. “in my 40+ years in education I have never seen a teacher as excited about any subject,” she writes. “[She] created her own curriculum and has been extremely willing to share it with other teachers.”
Harris earned two bachelor’s degrees – one in science, one in education – from Bangalore University in 1976 and 1977, and a master’s in education from Southwestern College in 2010. She was a high school science teacher from 1983 to 2003 in Chennai, India and in 2004 began teaching science at Wichita South High School and remains today.
“Its not easy for an immigrant to assimilate in a new culture at the age Chitra and her family relocated to the United States,” a colleague writes. “Yet, she not only integrates, but thrives and inspire through her inner brilliance and creative teaching skills. Chitra symbolizes the epitome of the American Dream”.