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Rollins educator learned, taught in same classroom

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Rollins Elementary School first-grade teacher Tina Harn has a special connection to her classroom, and it's not just because she's been teaching there for 29 years.

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Teacher Tina Harn looks on as first-grader Vonterria Anthony, 7, attaches a card with synonyms to the whiteboard.  John Curry/Staff
John Curry/Staff
Teacher Tina Harn looks on as first-grader Vonterria Anthony, 7, attaches a card with synonyms to the whiteboard.

Her room -- No. 3 -- is where she learned when she was in first grade.

"That room has good vibes," she said.

Harn started teaching in the room right out of college, and after this school year she'll retire. She said that when she began teaching first grade at Rollins it was pure luck that she was assigned to her original first-grade classroom, where she was taught by Margie Holland.

In her first year as a teacher, Harn and her mother were fixing up the classroom when her mom realized the unique connection.

"She said, 'Tina, I think this is your first-grade classroom.' We went back and looked it up (on a first-grade report card), and sure enough it was," Harn said.

Classroom No. 3 has had just a few changes through the years -- new desks, a lowered ceiling, a new sink and an erasable white board that replaced the old chalkboard.

Today, the classroom is filled with bright banners and posters, including one that challenges students to "Reach for the stars."

"The thing about that classroom is it's so big," Harn said Tuesday after teaching about synonyms and antonyms. "I just love my classroom."

And in her 29 years she has always taught first grade there.

"You see more progress in first grade than any other grade level," she said.

On Tuesday, one of her pupils, Jalen Simmons, said he will miss Harn when she retires "because she was the best teacher."

Besides her classroom, Harn will leave behind another connection to her past at Rollins. A good friend -- Mollie Silver, who met Harn when they were both 8 and attending Rollins -- is now a kindergarten teacher at the school.

"She is part of the reason I became a teacher," Silver said.

Harn said that these days she's teaching the children of pupils from years past.

She said that through the years her motto has been to instill self-esteem in her pupils.

"I think that's my legacy," she said. "I'm going to miss coming in every day and seeing their smiling faces."

She hopes whoever takes over No. 3 will let her come back to visit from time to time.

"I'm real picky about who's going to go in there," she said with a laugh.

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justus4 03/24/10 - 05:01 am
Wow! That's a long time...her

Wow! That's a long time...her story is really about how fast time actually goes by and the changes that people make. Her retirement is well deserved.

beachbum1776 03/24/10 - 09:17 am
I went 1st through 7th at

I went 1st through 7th at Rollins---some of the best years of my life. My 1st grade teacher was Mrs Hadden. Classroom #1 1956-57

dmflan88 03/24/10 - 11:08 am
Mrs. Harn is a great teacher

Mrs. Harn is a great teacher and a wonderful person who, like all of the Rollins faculty when I attended there (1987-1992), cares about her students and their families very much. The Rollins community is losing an excellent educator who definitely deserves all the praised heaped upon her.

hallcy 03/24/10 - 11:25 am
Class act she is! I know she

Class act she is! I know she will be missed. Congratulations and enjoy! You deserve it.

Down N Out
Down N Out 03/24/10 - 12:07 pm
Congrats to Mrs. Harn. It'll

Congrats to Mrs. Harn. It'll be a huge loss. I'm know she would've stayed longer if she had the support from her superior at the school and from down town. Expect many more teachers to leave the public education system and less to enter the teaching profession in the future. Until the day arrives where our public education leaders acknowledge the REAL problem and hold the PARENTS accountable for their kids NOT the teachers, the public education system will continue to circle the drain.

corgimom 03/24/10 - 08:19 pm
I've known Tina Harn for

I've known Tina Harn for nearly 30 years, also, and yes, she is a class act.

brightside08 03/25/10 - 08:24 am
Yes, Rollins will be losing a

Yes, Rollins will be losing a good teacher and it's ashame. But there are a hand full of parents that do get involved with their child's education and BEND over backwards to try and get the help they need only to be slapped in the face and more or less told that is not good enough. so you can't blame her leaving all on Parents not being involved with their child's education or behavior

gingersview 03/25/10 - 05:37 pm
I wish the story would have

I wish the story would have reported why she isn't going to finish her 30th year. What a shame that she is leaving.

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