1st grade classroom

BCSI Staff Spotlight—Carin Harner

Carin Harner“I always knew I wanted to teach little ones,” says Carin Harner, ’82. She graduated from Hillsdale College with an education major and English minor, completing her student teaching at Gier Elementary School and Mary Randall Preschool, both in Hillsdale.

Upon graduation, she married Mike Harner, ’82, who then joined the Navy to become a pilot. “Right after we were married, we left and started a military adventure that lasted for 20 years,” Harner says. “It was a wonderful experience and it took us to so many different locations.” With every new station came a new type of school. She gained a wide array of experience by homeschooling and teaching at private, Christian, public, and Catholic schools.

“Wherever we were stationed, we always stayed involved with Hillsdale. We would sit at tables at college fairs and answer questions,” Harner says. So when Mr. Harner was asked to direct the College’s Alumni Relations Office in 2004, the Harners were happy to move back to Hillsdale. Carin Harner then taught the combined first and second grade class at Hillsdale Academy for 12 ½ years.

A couple of months after her last semester at the Academy, BCSI approached Harner. “I was invited to do a school visit with the BCSI staff. I liked it, and it went from there,” she says. For the past year-and-a-half, Harner has worked as the BCSI literacy instructional coach. “For a while I was referred to as ‘all things elementary,’ and now I help with what we call literacy—what most people know as phonics.”

“I like helping teachers the most,” Harner continues. “I think initially there was this idea that ‘classical’ meant you were lecturing, that it all had to be presented in a sterile setting—which doesn’t work for little people. I really like that I can tell teachers, ‘Yes! Do a song with them. Take them to the carpet and do something fun. Pull out manipulatives and build something during math time.’ I love telling them that not only could they, but they should make it fun. We want to get students to wonder.”

Harner loves being a part of a project that meets a real need for educators. “A lot of parents are looking for solid academics. BCSI has an excellent mission, and it’s something people are seeking.”