TORRINGTON – A longtime Torrington High School math teacher and former coach received Teacher of the Year honors during an emotionally charged special assembly Friday afternoon.
Brian Harms has been shaping young Blazer minds in the classroom for nearly 26 years, in addition to time spent as head football, soccer, and girls’ basketball coach, and various under-varsity leadership positions.
Fellow THS teacher and friend Doyle Meyer made the official announcement, speaking to his colleague’s merits in front of an audience of students, staff, and district administrators.
“I would say he’s gracious, welcoming, genuine, and unselfish,” he said. “He will go that extra mile for you.”
He also provided quotes from students and parents, including:
“Mr. Harms is the best teacher I’ve had – he’s also one of the best people I know,” one student said, and a parent called him “a true gem in the field.”
Principal Chase Christensen referred to Harms as an “amazing guy” following Goshen County School District No. 1 Interim Superintendent Rick Patterson’s presentation of the Teacher of the Year certificate to Harms onstage in the THS Auditorium.
“The committee felt very strongly that we had good candidates … that this honor was certainly well-deserved and overdue,” Patterson told the Telegram. A panel consisting of Trustee Rod Wagner, Todd Peterson, Jennifer Brummell, Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, Rep. Shelly Duncan, and Principals Tyler Floerchinger and Randy Epler determined the district winner. “He’s been teaching here for … 25 years, and these days that’s not common – and everyone you talk to who has had him as a teacher loved him.
“It’s quite a legacy.”
Immediately following Friday’s assembly, Harms said he felt “embarrassed” about receiving the honor.
“I don’t have a whole lot of years left in my career, so I think it’s admirable, but I felt a young teacher should have received (Teacher of the Year) to motivate them to continue,” he said. “It’s a tough job.”
In high school, Harms said there was “no doubt” he wanted to be a coach, but wasn’t sure whether he would teach English or math.
“I’m a serious math person but I also can, I think, bring humor into the classroom,” he said. “No offense to adults, but I’d rather hang out with kids. I think they’re always welcoming and … moldable, innocent – teenagers bring all those characteristics to the table, and I appreciate that.”
Harms said his wife, Heather, who teaches special education at Torrington Middle School, is his biggest support system.
“She’s part of the reason I made it this long,” he said. “She gets me through the tough days.”
The couple has three grown children, but Harms also claims his students as his own.
“I honestly, in my heart, believe that Torrington has great kids, and I don’t say that lightly,” he said. “We don’t always get the best rap … but I can’t imagine there’s better kids.”