ELECTION 2020: Harrison seeks spot on school board

Published 9:06 am Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Democratic candidate for the Board of Education District 5 seat brings a great deal of experience in teaching.

Elizabeth Harrison, who is running for office versus Republican candidate Carla Poplin, has been a music teacher for more than 25 years and currently teaches at Pfeiffer University.

A North Carolina native, Harrison has taught music at Pfeiffer for six years. She earned her undergraduate degree at Duke University and a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Harrison earned her doctorate at Stanford University, where she taught as an adjunct professor for five years while also working part-time for the Santa Clara County school system.

Harrison spent three years in Germany as a collaborative teacher between the school system and the German church. She taught in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma before moving back to North Carolina.

Her main instrument is the organ, but she also plays harpsichord and clavichord. She serves as organist for Christ Episcopal Church in Albemarle.

Harrison said she believes the arts and humanities are important because both allow people to relate to each other as human beings.

“It doesn’t matter what your field is…if you can’t communicate well or read body language, you can’t understand people,” Harrison said.

Whether it is literature or visual or performing arts, Harrison said she is passionate about them.

Harrison said she is also passionate about the emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She said it’s important for musicians to become stronger in the field when they understand the science behind music, like acoustics and the psychology.

She said she was running after reading a lot about what the school board was doing. She felt it was a way to serve the community and help by using some of her background and experience.

“I have a strong passion for every child in education. I see some children and I feel they are sometimes overlooked,” Harrison said.

She said attention is sometimes paid to gifted kids and those on the bottom of the spectrum, but kids in the middle are sometimes overlooked.

“I don’t want to overlook anybody. I want a better education for every single child,” Harrison said.

Her experiences would bring a lot of ideas with which the board may not be familiar, she added, along with “some possible solutions that they have not thought of that would really improve our education here in Stanly County.”

Issues important to her include responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Harrison said needs to have a committee which would include teachers at every level and parents to address emergency issues. She said she knows SCS has a well-done emergency manual but “it really needs to be continually improved and revisited.”

Included in emergency response for Harrison would also include another passion of hers, keeping students safe from gun violence. She spoke of attending a reunion at her high school alma mater, High Point Central, and learning of someone getting into the school with weapons who was disarmed before they did harm to anyone.

“It was a little close to home,” she said, adding it was important to keep children safe “from the pandemic, from germs, from violence” while also “creating a culture where they are able to learn.”

Harrison said she would like to have better communication as a board member with teachers, who are “down in the trenches” working face-to-face with kids.

“They really know what the children need…sometimes their advice gets overlooked or swept under the rug.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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