Jessica Harraman, a first-grade teacher at West Field Elementary and product of Edmond Public Schools who says she was inspired by her own teachers to enter the profession, has been named the 2020 Edmond Teacher of the Year.
Superintendent Bret Towne made the announcement on March 5 during the district’s Celebration of Excellence event sponsored by the Edmond Public Schools Foundation.
“Our teachers are our backbone and we have some of the best here in Edmond,” Towne said. “The teachers have such a heart for our children.”
Harraman has been with Edmond Public Schools and in the same position since she graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014.
“As a former student of this district and teacher, it is really a privilege to represent Edmond,” Harraman said. “This community creates amazing teachers.”
Each day Harraman gives each student a final goodbye and always makes sure to tell them, “I love you. You are so special. You’re so smart and I cannot wait until I get to see you tomorrow.”
Harraman’s mother, Michelle Little, says it’s a joy to watch her daughter interact with her students.
“Her students know that she loves them,” Little said. “She was born to be a teacher.”
For Harraman, they are not just students, but people who she can foster both academically and emotionally. Harraman has sent letters to students for years offering words of encouragement and just to check-in.
“There are great teachers, and then there is Jessica Harraman: the Mary Poppins of education,” West Field Elementary Principal Crystal Smith wrote in her nomination form. “She leverages every single asset to the benefit of all of our students.”
Her passion for the students goes beyond the classroom walls as she has often cheered students on at their athletic, religious and cultural events.
“I love opening their eyes to the big world we live in,” Harraman said. “My heart and soul is in this.”
In 2018 she invited all of her former students to be in her wedding as flower girls and ring bearers. More than 30 past students showed up for the ceremony.
“It was such an amazing and cute ceremony,” her grandmother Sue Shellabarger said. “She has always worked well with children.”
Harraman even volunteers her extra time by mentoring new teachers, serving on new curriculum committees and other civic organizations around town.
“The biggest thing for me is to impact student lives every day and I get to learn just as much as they do,” Harraman said.
As Teacher of the Year, Harraman received a $1,000 check from the Edmond Public Schools Foundation, free dinner for a year from Taziki’s restaurant, and hundreds of dollars in gifts from nearly 40 area businesses.
As EPS’ Teacher of the Year, she will now compete in the state Teacher of the Year competition facilitated by the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Other Teacher of the Year finalists include Kathy Radle, John Ross Elementary special education; Mary North, Northern Hills Elementary special education; Jonette Ayubi, Cimarron Middle School special education; and Christine Custred, Edmond Memorial High School AP World and AP U.S. History.