Tri-C provided alumna with skills to teach others
Cleveland Metropolitan School District educator Shalana Harris knew at an early age that she wanted to teach, and she had a particular interest in working with Deaf students. She enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College to learn more about careers in education before committing to a four-year institution. When she arrived at Tri-C’s Metropolitan Campus Harris quickly found herself surrounded by classmates with a passion for learning from a variety of nationalities and age groups, and faculty and staff who would help her achieve her goals. “There were professors who identified special qualities in me that I had not yet recognized,” she said. “They elevated me.” Her American Sign Language teacher offered Harris the opportunity to tutor other students and encouraged her to become president of the Tri-C American Sign Language Club. Harris still quotes one of her science teachers, Dr. Clovesko, and credits speech teacher Laverne Wilcox for teaching her important public speaking skills. “Positivity oozed from her pores,” Harris said. “It was contagious.”
After graduating from Tri-C in 1993 with an Associate of Arts in American Sign Language, the future educator transferred to Kent State University to finish her bachelor’s degree in Special Education. She credits her Tri-C guidance counselor, Robert Patterson, for helping to ease the transition to the larger university: “From my first visit to his office to my last, he respected my college career and future dreams and helped me accomplish my goals.”
Harris spent the first 20 years of her career as a deaf educator before transitioning to teaching English Language Learners. Her third grade students come from nine different countries and speak over a dozen languages. She earned additional teaching credentials as a National Board Certified Teacher in Exceptional Needs and a Resident Educator Mentor, and received certification as a Master Teacher and a Lead Teacher from the Ohio Department of Education.
Harris uses the skills she learned at Tri-C with her current students, and credits her experience at the College for her success outside the classroom as well: “Tri-C nurtured the leader in me and helped me to recognize that I was still a stellar scholar. No success at Tri-C was ignored.” She encourages students to get involved in the many extracurricular opportunities offered at Tri-C. “Get involved in the social atmosphere, join a club or organization, allow yourself to be uplifted, and you do some uplifting,” she suggests. “It’s almost impossible not to enjoy your experience at Tri-C.”