FOLSOM, CA - Teaching is in Barbara Harris' blood. She's been at it for 40 years.
For 15 years she taught theatre and communications on the college level. But when her son started having trouble reading, she started thinking about changing grade levels.
"If I could find a way to teach him how to read then I could be successful with other children. So I went back to school again," Harris explained.
It wasn't long before she landed at Empire Oaks Elementary School in Folsom where the fifth grade teacher said the students keep her coming back.
Harris said, "You find that one child and they say they got that. Or you have little Susie who has not been able to get a really good grade on a test and she gets it. It's a feeling worth a million dollars."
Harris believes she's successful with younger children because she's able to find each one's special gift. She believes it leads to their success.
"Some children are very patient and giving. Maybe they have lots of little brothers and sisters and so I find that they're willing to share," said Harris.
She has those students sit beside those who need a little extra help.
She encourages students who are talented in music and drama to join her after-school program called the Shakespeare Academy. They produce Shakespearean plays and musicals which means learning lines, how to fence and build sets.
"That's where I really see a lot of kids grow because that instills them with independence and responsibility," Harris said. "We work with them but when that show starts and the curtain goes up, it's all them. They do the lights the sound, everything."
The students revel in their work along with their teacher who pushes everyone to do their best.
Last year Harris underwent heart surgery and she said she could retire but still isn't quite ready. "I'm happy right now. I'm really happy. A day at a time, that's my new philosophy."
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org