Meet Corps Member Holly Harrison
Teach For America South Carolina, 2022
A caring teacher helped change the trajectory of Holly Harrison’s life in a full circle moment nearly two decades later.
“My kindergarten teacher, Ms. Ratzloff, was always playful yet held me to such high standards. We kept in touch over the years, and she helped me prepare for my Teach For America interview where I had to give a lesson. I was grateful to bounce these lesson plan ideas off her because I wasn’t a teacher yet,” explained Harrison.
At the time of her interview, Harrison was about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Loyola University, but she wanted to try teaching. A college friend who recently joined Teach For America (TFA) shared that she could make an impact in the classroom as a corps member without a traditional education route.
In 2022, Harrison was accepted by TFA and placed as a special education teacher at Meeting Street Elementary – Burns in North Charleston, S.C. She was thrilled.
“My first choice on the TFA application was to teach special education in South Carolina,” shared Harrison. “I was active in my high school’s Special Olympics Club, and I prefer teaching in small groups. I also wanted to call South Carolina home.”
She added, “Once I started teaching as a corps member, I continued to ask for Ms. Ratzloff’s insights. My former teacher became my mentor.”
Alongside her cohort of corps members across the state, Harrison also received intensive training and coaching from Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC)’s veteran educators to launch an impactful career in the classroom.
“Because of TFASC’s training, I think about how to be a trauma-informed teacher every day,” she said.
Now entering her second year at Meeting Street, Harrison continues to develop as a teacher and leader by meeting one-on-one with her TFASC coach who provides emotional support and teaching practices that meet specific goals for her students. Some of these teaching practices, for example, helped one of her sixth-grade students improve his literacy skills by using an augmentative and alternative communication device.
The layers of support from TFASC, her school, and her mentor, Ratzloff, are important, especially on difficult days as an early career teacher.
“My advice to future educators is to ask for help, and be sure to take care of yourself,” said Harrison. “Teaching can be hard at times, but the smallest moments of joy offset any challenges. I’m grateful to invest in this community.”
Just like the investment made by Ratzloff in her life.