Golden Apple: Giving kids a shoulder to lean on at North Clay Middle School

Real-world, personal hardships that make her a friend and mentor to the kids at North Clay Middle School.

Posted: May 3, 2019 9:05 AM

CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - We are constantly inferring things about the world around us.

We've been doing it since a fairly young age...here's an example.

We see an adult standing at the head of a classroom, she has a textbook in her hand and she is professionally dressed.

We 'infer' that she is a teacher.

But if you listen very carefully, you'll find our next Golden Apple winner has unmatching compassion for her students.

Jennifer Harbour is using creative ways to teach her 7th grade English students inference.

A conclusion they can make based on evidence and reasoning they find in literature.

To better understand the English term, the kids are challenged to write about what kind of person they think SHE is, based on the stuff she has.

"I have a half-eaten, king-sized Twix bar...I have hearing aid batteries," Harbour told her class.

What you won't find in her purse is the stuff that makes this woman an amazingly compassionate teacher.

Real-world, personal hardships that make her a friend and mentor to the kids at North Clay Middle School.

"I know what it's like to have difficulties at home...to think I have all these obstacles stacked up against me. There's no way I can do this, but you can if you have somebody that believes in you. I'm gonna get teary here. It's just about having that support and I want to be that support for these kids," Mrs. Harbour told us.

She said she grew up very poor, without much adult support.

A few teachers went out of their way to make her feel needed and encouraged.

That compassion led her to be an educator...working hard to make her students feel safe and protected.

"These kids are so much more to me than a test score, we have kids in our corporation who have struggles at home, they don't know where the next meal is going to come from," Mrs. Harbour said. "I know what it feels like to not have someone in your corner and to worry about who can I talk to about this...who is going to help me with this and I try really hard to develop these personal relationships with kids."

She builds those relationships from the time they walk into the room, or simply walk through the hallway.

She is taking an interest in the student's academic and personal life, being their biggest cheerleader.

"She knows I'm shy, so when she feels like I need help, she comes up to me and tries helping me," Zoe, a student said.

"She's real big about building relationships. Getting to know every child. If she calls me about a student, it's not to complain about a discipline issue...it is to ask, how can I reach that kid?" Principal Robert Boltinghouse said.

Mrs. Harbour told us whatever Hell they may face outside f the school building, she wants her students to find Heaven inside her classroom, making them feel safe through compassion and care.

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