John Harkness, a teacher at West Washington High School in Washington County, is the recipient of the 2018 Rural Teacher of the Year Award.
During the school’s end-of-year awards banquet, Shelby Swain Myers, Indiana Farm Bureau’s associate policy advisor, and Christopher Lagoni, executive director of Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association, presented the award to the deserving teacher.
Harkness has been teaching since 2003 and has taught at West Washington High School in Campbellsburg, Indiana, since 2005. He teaches a variety of subjects including physics, calculus, trigonometry and more. Before he got his teaching license, he worked as an interpreter for the deaf for the state of Indiana, spent some time as a receiving supervisor at Kimball Piano and served as a preacher at local churches. Harkness said after those experiences he felt a calling to become a teacher.
“I came to the realization that that’s where I could make the greatest impact, working with young people,” said Harkness.
The Indiana Rural Teacher of the Year Award is given to current teachers who collaborate with the rural community to provide lifelong learning opportunities, lead in the educational community and leave a lasting impact on their students.
“I try to give them the skills they need to go out into the community to contribute and make it a better place,” Harkness said. “That just benefits our community if I’m helping students become better adults.”
Harkness applied for this award one other time before he won the honor this year. He said he could hardly believe that he won when he got the email notification. He joked that he had his wife read the email to him and confirm that he had indeed been selected as the Rural Teacher of the Year.
“I’m humbled by it as much as anything,” said Harkness. “I know there are a lot of amazing teachers in our rural communities, and I hope I’m just a good representative of all the other great teachers that are out there.”
INFB is a sponsor of the Indiana Rural Teacher of the Year Award and provides a $1,000 prize to the recipient.Pictured above (from left) are Shelby Swain Myers, representing INFB; Keith Nance, West Washington School Corporation superintendent; 2018 Rural Teacher of the Year John Harkness; Mary Anne Knapp, West Washington High School principal; and Christopher Lagoni, executive director of Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association.