Tevis Harris, principal of the elementary school at Rocky Mount Prep, has committed to teaching fifth-grade science while the teacher is away.
It is not a common practice for the principal to take over the class. Usually, substitute teachers are called upon to handle the class for certain periods of time.
“I did not want our scholars to fall behind in their learning. Fifth grade is a big year because students are assessed in ELA (reading), math and science,” Harris said.
In schools, principals are called upon to be instructional leaders and are responsible for improving student achievement.
“He is an amazing teacher,” said Benjamin Parks, a fifth grade-student in Harris’ science class at Rocky Mount Prep. “Dr. Harris makes learning fun and I remember everything he taught me.”
The students are rapping, chanting, building things and learning about weather. Weather is a part of the 5th Grade Science Standard Course of Study for students in North Carolina (NC Essential Standards). The last project required students to create a rain gauge out of a used two-liter soda bottle.
“The internal energy that Dr. Harris possesses is extremely contagious to both scholars and teachers alike as he leads us in learning and implementing instructional strategies that work,” said Tracy Joyner, assistant principal at Rocky Mount Prep Elementary. “We are on the road to high achievement.”
“Teaching and learning is my passion. I want my teachers to see me in action and I had the perfect opportunity to show teachers the very thing that I ask of them daily,” Harris said. “I am the instructional leader and teachers need to see me practicing what I preach.”
Harris has been teaching the class for three weeks and plans to continue to teach until the teacher returns. Students will take the North Carolina Check-In for reading, science, and math this week and Harris plans to use the data to inform his next steps for instruction.
“Dr. Harris has been teaching his heart out. That’s what good principals do in my opinion. He always comes into my classroom to leave feedback. He even takes over sometimes and allows me to watch him work with the children,” Evelyn Ivey said. “He is great at what he does.”
Harris has taught third and fifth grade for 10 years before becoming a school administrator. He was an assistant principal at Jones Elementary School in Wilson County Schools and a principal at Cedar Grove Elementary in Nash-Rocky Mount Schools.
“I am excited about the work we are doing at Rocky Mount Preparatory. Our teachers are working to ensure that every scholar is supported and given what they need to be successful,” Harris said.
When the teacher returns, Harris plans to spend some time coaching and planning with the teacher for the upcoming science unit.
“It was great to see Dr. Harris in action as he used a variety of instructional strategies to promote learning. I witnessed scholars on fire about learning science,” said Charlyne Richardson, who teaches first grade at Rocky Mount Prep.
Teachers are required to meet weekly in their grade level PLC to ask and answer questions and determine next steps in planning the instructional sequence. They are coached by an administrator or instructional dean.