Teacher of the Month for August
High School Civics teacher Clay Harris is working in a different lineup. The former LSU baseball player has been part of the faculty at University View Academy going on four years. His overall teaching career is nine years, and his first teaching job was at the school he graduated from, Slidell High. At first, his career path was to coach high school baseball, but he found something more fulfilling. “When I got to the classroom, I really enjoyed it,” he stated. He was married to a teacher, and his mom taught, so it became a natural fit.
Harris is as versatile in the classroom as he was on the baseball diamond. He played various positions at LSU before settling in as a second baseman. At UVA, he’s taught every subject in social studies except World History. But he was drawn to history. “It was the thing I liked to talk about, read about. That’s why I chose that direction,” he said. He did try another occupation in sales for a year but was drawn back to the classroom. His wife was teaching at UVA, and he applied to the school after seeing how she conducted her online classes. “Teaching is what I like. I think I’ll stay with it,” he contended.
He found a learning curve in translating how he taught in a brick-and-mortar classroom and applying it to the virtual world. He said once he grasped the technology UVA uses, he adapted quickly and saw the potential online teaching has. “You realize you can do just as much online. It’s more individualized, and you can target individual students,” he stated.
Harris said he gets many questions about what he does now because of his notoriety as an LSU baseball player. Eventually, questions come up that deal with his experience teaching in the COVID-19 world. “I tell them we kept rolling,” he related. The pandemic did not impact UVA like it did brick-and-mortar schools hastily forced to create new curriculums for online classes. UVA was well suited for educating students in the COVID world. Or, as Harris put it, “… nothing changed for us. We kept chugging along.” Individual teachers, other school districts, the LSU Education Department, and the Lousiana Department of Education came to UVA for advice. They also wanted to see how classes were conducted in the UVA online realm. It made Harris proud to be part of the University View Academy team. “The spotlight’s on us in a very positive way,” he declared.