Alaska's 2017 teacher of the year describes the moment he was recognized

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) It was an assembly meeting Soldotna High School teacher, James Harris, didn’t want to be late for.

“I could just see my superintendent being hard on me for this one.” He said in an interview Thursday.

“The meeting was about tardiness and I just didn’t want to be late.” He added. Little did he know staff and students were waiting to congratulate him. “As soon as I walked in there was huge applause"

Harris was chosen among a handful of finalist for Alaska’s 2017 teacher of the year. He joins a list of growing educators recognized by the state of Alaska, but Harris started his educational journey in High School as, what some would label an at-risk youth.

Related: 2018’s Teacher of the Year

“Teachers really helped me out. I was actually forced to take the S.A.T’s by a teacher. They saw something I didn’t see in myself. In college, I started studying literature and it really helped me understand myself. Two master’s degrees later and I absolutely love this profession.” Harris says he’s now inspiring his students to become teachers. He’s just one of many educators he calls are “unsung heroes” creating the leaders of tomorrow.