State Stories


Belleville East's Carol Harms Honored With NFHS Speech, Debate, Theatre Educator Award

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Belleville East teacher Carol Harms (right) has been named the recipient of the NFHS Outstanding Speech, Debate, Theatre Educator Award for NFHS Section 4. The NFHS’s membership consists of state high school associations and affiliate members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia which conduct, administer and promote high school activity programs. Over 20,000 high schools are represented in this membership. NFHS programs serve approximately 12 million high school students nationally who participant annually in interscholastic activities. NFHS Section 4 includes: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan & Wisconsin.

“Carol is dedicated to the mission of interscholastic activities, “said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Shaunda Brown. “Her knowledge and skills, as well as the endless hours she works to help make debate a thriving activity in our state is commendable. We truly appreciate her commitment to high school activities and are excited to see her receive this well-deserved recognition.”

Nominations for the NFHS Outstanding Speech/Theatre/Debate Educator Award are solicited from the each NFHS member state. When reviewing the nominations, the NFHS Committee looks at a number of criteria, including: 1) overall contributions, 2) years of service both curricular and co-curricular, 3) organization and continuance of an activity program, 4) significant and ongoing contribution to the field, and 5) contributions to the profession both in and out of the state.

A teacher and coach for over 30 years, Carol has made contributions to high school speech and debate programs across the state of Illinois. Her years of service include continued support of the IHSA State Debate Finals, including serving a stint as the Manager of the IHSA Debate Finals. Carol’s philosophy is simple… “Every school needs a dedicated teacher/coach to help students develop performance-related skills and talents.”

“Her skills do not end with her coaching and leadership,” added Brown. “She is a mentor, counselor and bearer of integrity. She resolves conflicts and handles difficult situations with remarkable patience and tact. Carol successfully juggles multiple roles and always projects a positive attitude with her colleagues. She goes out of her way to help, works hard and lifts up those around her.”