Minnehaha welcomes new staff member
By Wilson KozelTalon staff writer
“The way I see counseling is coaching for life,” said Richard Harris, Minnehaha’s new college and guidance counselor, “and preparing students to not only think about things that are a year ahead of them but to think of things that are ten years ahead of them.”
However, the future can be fairly different than how one imagines it. At least this was the case for Harris, who worked at Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif., where he was born and raised before applying and being awarded the job at MA this year.
Growing up, Harris was “terribly, terribly shy” and still is for the most part, he says. He has taken tests and is in the 90th percentile, or thereabouts, for introversion, which can lead to being a good counselor.
“I think Richard is a very good listener,” said Dr. Donna Harris, president of Minnehaha and mother of Richard Harris. “He’s a person that connects very well with everyone.”
Harris attended an all-boys Catholic high school where he played three sports: football, basketball, and baseball. Harris was described by his teachers as an ideal student, said Dr. Harris.
At one of Harris’s end of season sports banquets, Dr. Harris remembers the coach speaking fondly of him.
“He said, ‘Richard is the kind of guy that gives his heart into everything that he does. And Richard has also got a lot of integrity. Richard would be the guy that if I needed to have someone take care of my house or my money, I could leave it in Richard’s hands and I would know that everything would be okay.’”
Harris graduated from Whitman College in 2004 with a major in economics, and is already working to make a difference.
“One of the things I love to tell students is to think big,” said Harris. “A lot of students think less of themselves; but God has created us uniquely and all with individual gifts and talents. As a counselor, one of my jobs is to see deep within a kid and to help them become the person that God’s created them to be.”
Harris likes to use his life experiences in his counseling to help students.
“When I was in sports I had a lot of coaches that really spoke in my life and thought of me more than I thought of myself at the time,” Harris said. “And that’s what I like to do with students now.”
Although Harris has been at Minnehaha roughly four months, there are still things people don’t know about him.
“A lot of people still don’t know that Dr. Harris is my mom,” Harris said. “A lot of people think she’s my sister or she’s my wife.”
“In fact when I went to Red Lobster, when I was here visiting over the summer, we were walking in to be seated and the waiter said, ‘I’ll take you two to the romantic section’. Which was pretty awkward for me, given that that was my mom.”
People also probably don’t know his breakfast food of choice. According to Dr. Harris “he’s going to have a cinnamon Pop-Tart and he’s going to have a Sprite.”
“The refrigerator right now is full of all of these half empty bottles of Sprite,” said Dr. Harris.
No matter what, Harris takes his job seriously and will always look out for his students.
“I love to see students who have aspirations,” Harris said. “One of my most joyous moments is when a student comes in and says, ‘I got into the school I didn’t think I was going to get into.’”