2018 Kansas
Master Teachers

Connstance Allmond

High Incident/Intellectual Disability Teacher
USD 490 El Dorado

Deanna K. Burton

Social Studies Teacher
USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden

Abby Cornelius

Library Media Specialist
USD 229 Blue Valley

Todd Flory

Fourth-Grade Teacher
USD 385 Andover

Chitra Harris

Science Teacher
USD 259 Wichita

Matthew Irby

Science Teacher
USD 253 Emporia

Kimberly S. Schneweis

Visual Art Teacher
USD 489 Hays

Kansas Master Teacher Award


  

2018-KSMT-harris-180px

Chitra Harris

2018 Kansas Master Teacher

Science Teacher
Wichita High School South
USD 259 Wichita

 

Chitra Harris believes education should transcend national borders. Combining teaching philosophies from the East and West, she incorporates hands-on, real world experiences into her classroom to promote new ways of thinking.

In 2007, Harris was challenged by her district to create a course in forensic science. There were no textbooks available or guidelines for skills and competencies. Harris took on the challenge and has had nothing but success.

“The excitement of discovering facts for themselves instead of having it explained to them is key in learning and also in retaining what they have learned,” said Harris.

Inquiry-based activities include labs on blood spatter analysis, the use of a comparison microscope, and ballistics – the latter a challenge when zero-tolerance policies prohibit guns or bullets in the school. Harris has now obtained permission – and grant funding – to introduce ballistics kits, along with trajectory measuring lasers and other tools into her classroom.

When her students begged to put their skills to the test by solving a ‘real crime,’ Harris used foam spray, soil, and maggots to turn a plastic Halloween skeleton into what appeared to be a decomposing body.

A colleague describes Harris as a ‘trail blazer.’ “In my 40+ years in education I have never seen a teacher get as excited about any subject,” she writes. “(She) created her own curriculum and has been extremely willing to share it with other teachers.”

Harris earned two bachelor’s degrees – one in science, one in education – from Bangalore University in 1976 and 1977, and a master’s in education from Southwestern College in 2010. She was a high school science teacher from 1983 to 2003 in Chennai, India and in 2004 began teaching science at Wichita South High School and remains today.

“It is not easy for an immigrant to assimilate in a new culture at the age Chitra and her family relocated to the United States,” a colleague writes. “Yet, she not only integrates, but thrives and inspires through her inner brilliance and creative teaching skills. Chitra symbolizes the epitome of the American Dream.”