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Tempe music teacher receives national award for education excellence

Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 20:42:30-05

TEMPE, AZ — On Friday, Kyrene teacher R. Scott Harnisch, who goes by "Mr. H," attended a virtual gala hosted by ABC Nightline and the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation, which celebrated many teachers for their excellence in education.

"It’s very humbling," said Harnisch. "There’s so many incredible teachers and I got fortunate enough to be given this opportunity but I got it because I had happened to be nominated. There are a lot of other great teachers that weren’t nominated but probably deserved it more than I did."

The NEA Foundation held a virtual gala for teachers across the country to honor "outstanding public educators."

Harnisch was nominated by his colleagues. One of the nomination letters called Harnisch a "diamond in the rough."

"Mr. Harnisch also outsources musicians and brings in guests that perform during the student’s lunch period. We have had Mariachi bands, Flamenco dancers, and he set up a partnership with the middle school to have students come and perform."

"It’s very humbling when you see it and it’s very hard not to become very teary-eyed," said Harnisch.

"He’s symbolic of the kinds of things educators have been involved in across the country," said Byron Pitts, host of the gala and an ABC News correspondent. "People who give their full measure to the students and find creative ways to teach students virtually, oftentimes, during this pandemic."

Harnisch said teaching music virtually forced him to change his curriculum, and integrate more social and historical lessons into his classes.

"With Black History Month, it’s been really, really fun to show them, different artists, that frankly, during the year, during a normal year, I just don’t have the time," said Harnisch.

Kyrene School District recently decided to return all students back to the classroom no later than March 16.