BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - Our Teacher of the Month for March is a 24-year professional in Craighead County and has spent the last eight years in northeast Arkansas. Ms. Carol Harral graduated college at the University of Central Arkansas before starting her teaching career in Heber Springs. She currently teaches 5th grade science and social studies at Brookland Middle School.
"I am what I am because I believe God gifted me with encouragement, with the gift of encouragement more than anything," said Harral.
Harral said she was honored to have been nominated for the award, but was surprised when she learned she received the recognition in early March.
"When I actually heard that I won this, I laughed because I don't hold myself up being any higher than any other teacher," said Harral. "I am still learning. The kids are still teaching me and I always try something new. I never feel like I've gotten there."
Harral said some of her coworkers created a sign next to her classroom door to honor her achievement.
"Up until now, I used to didn't like science and my parents always told me it really depends on the teacher, and Ms. Harral is awesome. She makes it easy to understand and do," said Lacy Dunn, whose mother wrote the nomination letter. "We know that we're here to learn, but at the same time, whenever Ms. Harral is teaching, we don't really know that we're learning."
With a Region 8 News camera rolling, Harral's class learned about different rock formations by dancing to music, eating layers of "soil" and shooting paper basketballs after answering questions correctly.
"They always enjoy the labs. It doesn't matter what it is. They always enjoyed the labs, especially when they get to eat," said Harral. "I do throw in the raps and the raps are always connected to the lesson. Like the life cycle song. It has the whole rock cycle repeated and they repeat it over and over and over and hopefully they remember it when they take that test."
Harral said she was especially touched when she found out why she was nominated.
"They (mother and daughter) were having a conversation in the car and she said something to the effect, 'Mom, God must give teachers special God parts because Ms. Harral has special parts that she knows just what to say and just what to do before we even ask'," said Harral. "Ten to twenty years from now, they're not going to remember what they read necessarily or even what I said, but they'll remember that that ate chocolate pudding and gummy worms with coconut on top."
Even when she's frustrated, Harral said she doesn't let the kids know it.
"I've been told by the kids that even when I'm mad, I don't come across as mad and I try to be very respectful. I never say shut up. We have little signals we'll do if it's time to bring it down," said Harral. "I try to remember that and I treat them the way I would want to be treated if I were sitting in that desk."