- Cleburne Independent School District
Future Educator has Big Plans for CHS Chapter in 2nd Year as President
Journey Harris has big plans for the Cleburne High School chapter of Texas Association of Future Educators, as she begins her second year as president.
Over the summer, Harris became the first member to win a national championship for the CHS chapter, taking first place in Junior Varsity Impromptu Speaking in the Educators Rising National Conference. She was among five Cleburne students to establish a new chapter milestone in advancing to the national level of competition.
Harris also placed fourth in Public Speaking among JV competitors, with 2021 graduate Dillion Grisham placing fourth in the Varsity contest. Teammates Hannah Sian, as author, and Savannah Gaines, as illustrator, finished 12th in JV Children’s Literature for Kindergarten-Grade 3 and 2021 graduate Julieanna Fonseca placed 12th in Varsity competition for her interactive bulletin board.
Harris chose the education and training career cluster as her area of study as a sophomore, inspired by her involvement with children and youth at her church.
“I took American Sign Language as a freshman and had signed up for a health science class for my sophomore year, not really knowing what I wanted to be in choosing a career pathway of study,” she said. “That all changed when I began to volunteer with the youth—and fell in love with it.”
“I switched my class on the third day of school to take Introduction to Education and Training,” she said. “I learned so much in developing people skills and learning how kids work. I have a much better understanding of how kids learn and what kids need.”
Harris was also able to engage in her newfound desire to work with learners as a participant in the Partners in PE program at CHS. She earned her physical education credit as she worked alongside her fellow students in Lifeskills.
When she heard about the Cleburne chapter of Texas Association of Future Educators, Harris not only raced to sign up, she chose to run for chapter president—and won--despite being a new member. Working with her fellow officers and teacher/chapter sponsor Kaleigh Black, membership numbers tripled.
As Harris’ contemplated her participation in TAFE skills competition, speaking events seemed an obvious choice. As a sophomore, she qualified for the Junior Varsity contest level.
“I competed in UIL Academics in middle school and won in Impromptu Speaking,” she said. “When I saw that on the list of competitive skills events, I knew I had to do that, and Public Speaking.”
Harris’ path to nationals began at the Region 11B competition. All contests were conducted virtually, which was a disappointment, as she would have preferred to present in person. In her first contest hurdle, she was videoed responding to the prompt, “What is it like to be the product of a digital learning environment?”
She placed second in Impromptu Speaking, accompanied by a second-place finish in Public Speaking. Both wins qualified her for the TAFE Teach Tomorrow Summit, where she would go up against Region contest medalists from across the state.
Despite her success, Harris thought her chances for advancement would end at the state contest. However, the judges chose otherwise, as she came away with national-qualifying silver medals in the JV division in what has become her two signature speaking events.
Harris’ topic in Impromptu Speaking challenged participants to address the “short-term and long-term fix to college debt.”
“When we received the topic, we had ten minutes to prepare,” Harris said. “We were also allowed to use one small index card to refer to in our presentation time of four-six minutes. Just like the state contest, we presented to judges virtually.”
Following her contest presentations, Harris promptly left for church camp with fellow members of the Bethel Temple youth group, while the four-day national conference continued.
“They were going to announce the results of the skills events during the closing session,” she said. “I had trouble logging on from our location at camp, so I followed their Instagram postings. We had a party in my girls cabin that night when I saw I had won in Impromptu Speaking. I also had a screaming celebration over the phone with everyone in our TAFE chapter.”
Cleburne’s record-setting setting performance in first-time national competition has set the tone for 2021-22, with the regional contest coming up fast.
Harris, who plans to stay with Impromptu Speaking, has launched her second year of Cleburne TAFE chapter leadership with the goal of engaging more members in skills competition. She also wants to involve members in a project relating to one of the components within the TAFE Standards of Excellence.
“What Journey accomplished as a first-year education student and TAFE member has definitely inspired others,” Black said. “She sets out to do her best and to make a difference in everything she does.”
“Last year, she took an on-line class to build up her writing and speaking skills in preparing for competition,” Black said. “She wants to give her all, no matter the situation. Journey chose to remain a chapter officer this year, rather than running for Area office because she wants to continue to work with our members and grow our chapter.”
Now a junior and a second-year student in the Education and Training career cluster, Harris looks forward to every day in the classroom—the middle school classroom—where she is receiving some hands-on experience as a student teacher.
“I am so excited to be going to middle school during my education period to work with teachers and students,” she said. “I can’t wait to be the teacher I want to be.”