Terri Harmon often speaks of passion when she discusses the volunteer work she does with school children.
The mother of two young daughters that attend Pleasant Lea Elementary School, Harmon is often at the school either in the role of volunteer or taking on “proud mother” responsibilities.
Harmon, an incumbent, is one of four candidates seeking election April 8 to the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Board of Education. Elected to a three-year term in 2011, Harmon is just as passionate about other student’s success as she is about her 8- and 12-year-old daughters’ success.
The business strategy and technology consultant runs her own firm myVP, or My Versatile Partner. When she is not juggling business ownership with her clients’ needs, she tends to her children and husband, all the while giving up one day per week helping students at Pleasant Lea Elementary this year with their reading skills.
“I just come regularly once a week as scheduled but I come all of the time for other things,” Harmon said during a recent visit to Pleasant Lea. “I know a ton of kids here because they’ve been in my daughters’ classes or various Girl Scout troops along the way. I know a lot of the kids and they know me. It just feels like home.”
Harmon’s presence on the grounds of Pleasant Lea hasn’t gone unnoticed by the school’s principal, Patricia Alexander.
“We just really appreciate our parents that volunteer and Mrs. Harmon is one of those parents that we know we can really count on to be here to support kids,” Alexander said. “I know one of the things she has really helped with is helping students really look at their goals that they have set for themselves and help them think about what steps they took to achieve that goal. Mrs. Harmon is very dependable and we couldn’t do what we do without her and our other volunteers.”
With two children enrolled in elementary school, Harmon said she, like other concerned parents, often worry about the unthinkable and unimaginable. She has been a big proponent of improving school safety during her three years on the school board and her stint before that on the school district’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee.
After all, one never knows what can happen once on school grounds, Harmon said, and building safety is paramount.
“School safety is a topic that is kind of near and dear to me,” she said. “A couple of years ago we put in a long-range plan to improve that. I’ve seen great strides in that improvement over the years. I believe in the district we are doing the right things to improve not only the facilities but also providing teachers and administrators with the training that they need should something happen.”
And the feeling Harmon gets after she has done her volunteer work at the school? She said it reminds her if why she stepped away from the 9-to-5 grind and started her own consulting firm in 2008 after nine years in the management field at Best Buy and a 10-year stint as Chief Operating Officer at the non-profit Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.
“It grounds me and reminds me of why I do everything else I do and why I work hard,” Harmon said of her volunteer experience. “When you become a consultant you may give up the 9-to-5 punching somebody else’s clock, but your day becomes 6 a.m. to midnight because you have to work when work is needed to be done. You get a lot of flexibility but you give up some control of your time as well.
“Coming here reminds me of why I did it all and why I ran for school board and why I care so much. I get to see the kids and I get to see how they are learning and watch how they progress.”
This is the final in a four-part series featuring candidates running for three open seats on the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Board of Education.