Adjunct Teacher Wins National ‘Shout Out’ Award


STUDENT FAVORITE: Accounting teacher Karen Harmon lectures a class in the Cimmarusti Science Building. Harmon will receive the national “Teacher Shout Out” award, an honor based on the popular vote of students.

Fidel Cantu, Staff Writer

Karen Harmon, an adjunct professor of accounting at GCC, will receive the 2014 “Teacher Shout Out “ award in June.

About 6,500 educators have been recognized in all 50 states since the Teacher Shout Out community was created online in 2013.

According to Ginger Plexico, vice president of marketing at Herff Jones, the company that sponsors the award, teachers and other educators that give so much to students do not always get to fully realize the positive impact they have on people’s lives.

Harmon received the most votes during a six-week voting period on the Teacher Shout Out website. As the award winner, she will receive a $5,000 cash-prize that is to be split with the school.

“I thought I was being scammed when I received the first e-mail about the award,” said Harmon. “But then I was contacted for an interview; that’s when I started to believe I had won.”

Harmon attended UC Davis as an undergraduate. She majored in rhetoric with a minor in drama and earned a master’s degree in education. Upon graduation, she spent some time between as a school teacher before enrolling into the MBA program at Claremont Graduate University, completing the program in 1982.

“Someone once told me that everyone should have a tool kit and you can go anywhere,” said Harmon. “Accounting afforded me that tool kit, and that is why I got in the MBA program at Claremont.”

Harmon has been at GCC for 16 years, spending most of that time teaching accounting. She is also a controller at the Athenaeum at Caltech, heading the purchasing department.

“I’m so happy to have received this award, being that both my parents were educators,” she said. “My mom was a school teacher and my father was a part-time school teacher, until he went to work for IBM, so I just love the fact I’m receiving this award.”

Harmon said she enjoys meeting people, especially students with interesting stories to tell. She likes to share what she has attained and appreciates the opportunity to “pay forward” education. The students inspire her and she feels she has a direct link into improving students’ lives by improving their career development or job status.

One of her biggest thrills is when she hears from former students whose lives she has affected. Some have told her that it became apparent to them, while taking her class, that accounting should be their career choice. Some of them have moved on to work for large firms while others managed to pass the Certified Public Accountant exam.

Tsuki Nenova, a former student of Harmon’s who took a financial accounting class during Spring 2013, believes that it takes great talent to help someone learn.

“She is also a great person and a great teacher,” said Nenova. ”She gave me courage, knowledge, and taught me to be confident.”

“Because Karen is such a great teacher, I also enrolled in her class, Principles of Income and Taxation in the fall,” said Nenova. “She made the class interesting and helped me pass all my bookkeeping tests. I got hired by a great CPA firm in Pasadena — Stanislawski and Company Inc.”

“I’m very happy for Karen Harmon. The fact that she is a winner in the teachers Shout Out shows how many people believe she is a great teacher,” Nenova said.

Lisa Costan, a former student, said Harmon is warm, friendly and approachable.

“She likes teamwork and wants everyone to participate in class,” said Costan. “She is very knowledgeable and current in the subjects of principles of income and taxation, being that tax laws are constantly changing. She is always in high spirits as she is able to take a dry subject and make everyone laugh.”

Costan feels there is no one more deserving of an award.

“She is an outstanding teacher and individual,” said Costan. “It’s no wonder she’s getting an award. I’m so happy for her. It feels good to know she’s being recognized.”