Position: Health and Physical Education Teacher
School: Middlesex High School
School District: Middlesex County Public Schools
City, State: Saluda, Virginia
About the Nominee: Dustin Harris was nominated by his principal, Jeannie Duke. Mr. Harris is a LifeChanger because he has made a difference in the lives of elementary and high school students by integrating wellness into their everyday lives. He is also a LifeChanger because he has made a difference in the life of his principal and supervisor, Mrs. Duke.
Mr. Harris went through something unimaginable a couple of years ago. He and his wife, who is also a teacher, were faced with difficulties that many will never experience in a lifetime. Through all of this, Dustin never lost his faith.
Recently, Mrs. Duke's mother was diagnosed with mesothelioma of the abdomen. Mr. Harris went to see Mrs. Duke and said to her, "Mrs. Duke, I know you like to know everything that is coming and you like to plan ahead, but there is only one who knows what is going to happen in the future. You have absolutely no control over this, you need to give that up and have faith." Although Mrs. Duke sobbed as she spoke with him, she stated that Mr. Harris was right. He helped her renew her faith and let go of what she cannot control.
Mr. Harris is the consummate professional. Everything that he is a part of at his school becomes excellent. Mrs. Duke states that after reading the book "The Fred Factor," she quickly identified Mr. Harris as a "Fred." He is a doer, a go-getter and someone that makes the ordinary, extraordinary. Mr. Harris has improved his school's health and physical education program beyond what one can describe. He collaborates with his colleagues and always strives to improve what his school does and offers.
Another example of Mr. Harris' selflessness is his volunteerism in his community. For years, and as a 20-something young man, he and his wife volunteered to help mentally challenged children on Friday nights. They could have been out on a Friday night like most people their age, but they volunteered to make other people's lives better.
Not only has Mr. Harris improved the lives of hundreds of students, both elementary and high school aged, but he has improved the lives of those he works with, including his principal. His ethical and moral conduct is beyond reproach, and he is one of the best human beings one could meet. He exemplifies the meaning of being a LifeChanger in his community, and Mrs. Duke says that she is proud to know him!