ODESSA, TX. (KMID/KPEJ) — Each month four teachers are chosen for our Teacher of the Month Award, and are nominated by you at home. It’s all sponsored by Pioneer Natural Resources.

One of them is chosen to be surprised in person. This month we chose Mrs. Rachel Harris.

“Shocked and surprised.” Mrs. Harris said was her first reaction.

Mrs. Harris is a 1st Grade teacher at Buddy West Elementary.
We surprised her in her classroom, with school leaders and her mother, who also works at the school.

“Its been a hard year, so this feels really awesome.” said Harris.

She’s been teaching for nearly two decades.

“I taught for Head Start for 13 years, and then I’ve been with ECISD for five.” said Harris.

Rachel says her students become like her children after so much quality time together.

“They become a part of my family, I spend a lot of time here. I stay late everyday trying to make sure that they have what they need.” said Harris.

Teaching first grade she says is a challenge in itself, but very rewarding.

“I get to see them light up when they learn how to read, and its very very exciting when they start getting it and everything starts clicking… That’s just very emotional for me.” said Harris.

Rachel plans on teaching young students until the day she retires. She says being in education, sometimes its hard to feel noticed– but that this surprise reminded her that hard work pays off.

“Sometimes we feel like we’re not being seen, or we’re just behind the scenes and nobody knows, and so just having the acknowledgement and understanding that we are hard working, and our work is paying off.” said Harris.

All four of this months winners got a $250 gift card sponsored by Pioneer.

Lauren Carter was another one of our winners. She teaches 3rd grade at Bowie Fine Arts Elementary.

Nicole Sanchez-Torres teaches Pre-K at Wink Elementary, another one of our winners.

And our last winner, Patricia Morales, she teaches First grade at Bush Elementary.

A big congrats to all of this month’s winners. We so appreciate having you in our community.

If you have a teacher you’d like to nominate, look under our contest tab, and select Teacher Surprise Squad.