AmeriCorps VISTA members highlight Erwin school community in interviews

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When you sit down and listen to people tell their story, you find out all kinds of amazing things. That’s what happened when our team of AmeriCorps VISTA members at Erwin Middle School began interviewing key members of the Erwin school community. Every few days, they sit down with faculty and staff to ask them what encouraged them to become teachers and what motivates them each and every day. The first three staff that they interviewed are showcased below. 

Amazing Community Response

When we posted the stories below on our Facebook page we were blown away by the response! Parents and grandparents of students, and students themselves started sharing their appreciation for their teachers:

  • He is my teacher and he is amazing. Rodrigo B.
  • Mr. Dare is a great teacher and coach who teaches life lessons and was an honorable person in my life. Zachary E.
  • Thank you (Ms. Harwell) for all you do for my grandson! Karen B.
  • Way to go Dawn. Soooo proud of you girl. I know you are going to make a HUGE difference in the life's of the kids there as well as the teachers.
    Have fun and may each day make a difference in somebody's life. Debbie W.

To see more posts like the ones below and see more great comments from the community, visit the Middle School Success Facebook page

Featured Staff

Ms. Harwell - 7th Grade Math at Erwin Middle School 

“My students don’t get a chance to do 7th grade again, they don’t get a chance to do that day again.”

This is what Elizabeth Harwell, a 7th grade math teacher at Erwin Middle, thinks when she has a tough day at school. She has one chance to instill a love of math and a confidence in their abilities in her students.

“I need to make sure that the lesson tomorrow is better.”

Ms. Harwell’s enthusiasm for 7th grade math and for Erwin students can be explained by the fact that she is living her dream. Ever since she walked these halls as a 7th grader, Ms. Harwell knew that her goal was to come back and teach in the community she grew up in.

“It is important for me to serve and be a part of the community I came from, because it made me who I am.”

Because of this passion, when Ms. Harwell is not coaching track, you can find her at school at all hours preparing lessons for her students to make sure that they get a productive and engaging lesson. You are an inspiration to us all, thank you for all that you do Ms. Harwell! 


Ms. Dawn, Custodian at Erwin Middle School 

“Whenever I see a student in the hallway who is crying or feeling down, I look them in their eyes and remind them to be happy and smile. They carry that memory with them all day.” 

Ms. Dawn, our new custodian, has a heart too big to measure. She cherishes these opportunities to be a positive influence in our student’s lives. As a custodian, she has a similar empathetic approach. Ms. Dawn likes to picture the types of spaces she would like to work and learn in and sets about creating them. She wants the whole Erwin community to take pride in the school that we all create together.

By now, it should be easy to predict Dawn’s answer when a few staff members approached her asking for nutrition and exercise advice after they learned that she used to own a nutrition club. Not only did she say yes, but Dawn asked the administration if she could start a nutrition club for teachers and staff to help them lead healthier lives. She will be teaching her first class in a few weeks. Ms. Dawn loves her work here at Erwin Middle, and the school loves her right back. Thank you for all that you do Ms. Dawn!

Mr. Dare, 8th Grade Science Teacher, Erwin Middle School 

“I was living in a desolate, rural town in Virginia. The only choices were to teach or mine coal, and I don’t like small spaces.”

This is how Sean Dare, an 8th grade science teacher here at Enka Middle School began his career as an educator. Mr. Dare left teaching for a while after he moved, but said he did not feel complete.

“I would wake up in the morning and dread work, now that I am back teaching, I get up and smile, I’m happy about where I’m going!”

Being so enthusiastic about school was not always the norm for Mr. Dare. Growing up, his family moved several times and he had difficulties sometimes with his peers and with focusing in school. This background provides Mr. Dare with a unique perspective as a teacher. The reason he is so happy to come to work every morning is because he has an opportunity to help kids just like himself. He takes pride in supporting students who have the ability to succeed but don’t always have the resources. Mr. Dare goes out of his way to support the students and families in the Enka district, and we are honored to call him a colleague. Thank you for all that you do Mr. Dare!


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