For the entirety of her 16-year career, Bonnie Harvey has served the students of Washington Elementary School (WES) as their counselor. In connecting with students in a genuine, open-hearted way, Harvey works with students on their social and emotional well-being. This work helps see students grow and academically flourish. It is because of Harvey’s continual dedication to the students and families of WES that she is one of the three Auburn School District’s Teachers of the Year.
Considering WES a second home, Harvey said that being at the school for 16-years has allowed her to “build a program that is connected and cohesive across grade levels over time; and it allows me to support the implementation of whole school initiatives [systematically and strategically] over time. It also allows for a deeper connection and understanding with staff and families because we share a history together.”
Working with WES Students
According to Harvey, the beautiful thing about working with elementary aged students is their eagerness to learn. Elementary students can at times make a teacher feel like a rock star, as children are excited to say hi in the hallway, give compliments, and hugs. “They still think adults are cool,” said Harvey.
To Harvey, it is vital that the whole of a student is understood, not just their grades or the test scores they produce. Her work in the classroom, in small group settings and one-on-one counseling, plays a significant role in student success. “Each of our students is a uniquely talented individual with hopes and dreams, and promise for the future,” said Harvey.
“Many of our students are exposed to stress and trauma which can interfere with their ability to respond to situations [productively], sometimes, but it is not because they are ‘bad,’ or ‘don’t care,’” continued Harvey. “When they “overreact or shut down” It is because they haven’t learned how to compensate for the impact of that stress [or] trauma on their developing brains. Each of our students has the potential to develop talents and strengthen skills that will help them to impact the world [positively]. I believe it is my role to help them recognize that.”
For Harvey, “The smile of a child who feels seen and understood is heartwarming and inspiring, and the reason I get up and come to work every morning.”
Reaching Beyond the Classroom
As a member of the ASD’s Building Leadership Team, Harvey is involved in the strategic planning for WES. The team develops and implements school-wide initiatives. Harvey feels that her role being on the Building Leadership Team is “evidence of the value our school places on the social [and] emotional well-being of our students.”
In addition to being on the Building Leadership Team, Harvey frequently cultivates relationships with external agencies to provide support for WES students experiencing homelessness. During the holidays, she spends considerable time connecting families with resources. WES Principal Pauline Thomas said, “[Harvey’s] impact on students, their families, our staff and our community has been immeasurable.”
Honored by the Recognition
As a counselor, Harvey did not expect to be nominated as Teacher of the Year and found the recognition to be a wonderful surprise. She considers her selection by the ASD School Board a highlight of the importance the ASD places on social-emotional learning, as well as educating the whole child. “I feel so blessed and honored to work in a school and district that recognizes the importance of the mind-body connection and that understands that teachers serve in many different roles. I don’t work for the recognition; I work for the kids. But I am grateful to have my work be recognized, especially in a district where there are so many wonderful teachers. And, the coolest thing for me personally is that I have something to show my family and make my mother and my grandmother proud.”
Harvey graduated from Annapolis Senior High School in Annapolis Maryland. In 1989 she graduated Cum Laude with her 9-month-old baby on her hip from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Accounting. Rewarded financially but not spiritually, Harvey returned to school. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in School Counseling from the University of Washington in 2001. Throughout her career, she has received Outstanding Educator in 2010 and 2018 from Washington Elementary PTA.
Outside of work, Harvey enjoys hiking and last year hiked part of the Camino de Santiago with her mother. Harvey loves kayaking and has paddled for the Kent Dragin’ Tails Dragonboat race team for 17 years. With a Weight Watchers Lifetime Achievement award under her belt, she is learning how to cook because she decided to switch to a plant-based diet. When not taking on feats of nature or the kitchen, she enjoys the company of family, friends and her dog Cooper. Harvey always makes time to cuddle her two new grandbabies.