Belmont Hills Elementary Recognizes Melissa Harris as the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week

Fifth grader Vicky named her fourth grade teacher Melissa Harris the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week during a surprise announcement at Belmont Hills Elementary School. (Pictured from Left to Right) Rattana Inthirathvongsy, Cobb County School District (CCSD) director of Employment Services; Sharon Thackston, CCSD benefits supervisor; Brooke Cotton, CCSD compensation representative; Dr. Ashley Campoli, Belmont Hills principal; Melissa Harris, Belmont Hills Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week; Vicky, Belmont Hills fifth grader; representatives from Chick-fil-A; and Tyler Gwynn, CCSD recruitment supervisor. Harris’s brother and dad also joined the group for the photo.

They cried. They laughed. They danced. That’s how fourth grade teacher Melissa Harris and her former student Vicky reacted when Vicky named Harris the Belmont Hills Elementary School Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week.

As Vicky prepared to reveal the teacher she had selected as the Phenomenal Teacher, she started to cry. She turned to the visiting Chick-fil-A cow for a hug-of-support before launching into the reasons why Harris is so special to her.

Fifth grader Vicky named her fourth grade teacher Melissa Harris the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week during a surprise announcement at Belmont Hills Elementary School. Over the school’s morning announcements, Vicky read the reasons why she thinks Harris is a Phenomenal Teacher.

“She has taught me a lot of new stuff. She has been nice to me. She has made me smile and laugh,” the fifth grader told her schoolmates on the morning announcements. “I appreciate her being next to me because she is the best teacher I have ever had, and I will never forget her.”

Vicky, along with all her fifth grade classmates, wrote a paper about the person she would choose as the Phenomenal Teacher, and school staff selected Vicky’s poignant piece to represent all the other students who also selected Harris as their Phenomenal Teacher.

While Harris listened to Vicky describe her Phenomenal Teacher, the fourth grade teacher kind of had a feeling that Vicky was talking about her, but that didn’t stop her waterworks of tears from flowing after the official announcement.

“I’m really honored because I know my kids love me, and I love them,” the Phenomenal Teacher said. “I like being a teacher because I love my kids.”

Harris, who is only in her third year of teaching, values the Phenomenal Teacher award more because it was given to her by a student. She cherishes the praise she receives from students like Vicky, who Harris said would come into class and tell her, “Ms. Harris, you are doing a great job.”

This time Vicky got chance to tell that to the entire school.

Fifth grader Vicky named her fourth grade teacher Melissa Harris the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week during a surprise announcement at Belmont Hills Elementary School

“It is important to recognize teachers because people don’t know what your teacher has done, and [I wanted] to show the world that she is the best teacher [I] have had,” Vicky added.

Harris thinks she stands out to Vicky and the other students as a Phenomenal Teacher because she is able to connect with them. She considers herself “very with it.” Besides the way Harris prepared her for the next grade, Vicky detailed other reasons why her former teacher is so phenomenal.

“She makes jokes. She dances. She laughs, which makes me laugh. She is funny. That’s all I can say,” Vicky said with a smile.

One reason Harris may be able to connect with her students so well is because it is something she has been preparing to do her whole life.

“I always wanted to be a teacher. When my parents moved, my mom found all my memory books from when I was a kid, and everyone said ‘When I grow up, I want to be a kindergarten teacher.’ I actually prefer fourth grade now,” she said with tears in her eyes but a big smile on her face.

Members of the Campbell High School band and representatives from Chick-fil-A, including the beloved cow, helped celebrate Harris being named the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week. To top off the surprise, her father and brother travelled from out of town to congratulate Harris for being phenomenal at her dream job.