Holiday, Harssema named Sun’s co-teachers of the year

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
Molly Holiday and Eric Harssema were honored last week as co-winners of the 2012-13 Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year award.
Courtesy Charlie Riley |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — On Sept. 4, Truckee Hometown SEARS owner Charlie Riley announced Molly Holiday, first-grade teacher at Kings Beach Elementary; and Eric Harssema, second-grade teacher at Incline Elementary School; as winners of the 2012-13 Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun Teacher of the Year award.

Plumas Bank, Sierra Sun, and Truckee Hometown SEARS, co-sponsors of the Teacher of the Year program, honored the 12 finalists at a reception last week. Finalists represented schools in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.

Finalists included teachers Kurt Heisinger,Harssema, Judi Finney (the 2013-14 TTUSD Teacher of the Year), Erin Robb, Jeni Cross, Julie Miescke, Suzanne Beye, Holiday, Theresa Charter, Julia Lawrence, Mary Bockius and Eric Rohlf. The reception was held at the Truckee branch of Plumas Bank with food and beverages provided by Smokey’s BBQ, The Whole Treats Bakery, and Zano’s Family Italian and Pizza, as well as Plumas Bank.

Plumas Bank manager Shelley Wright, Sierra Sun Publisher Michael Gelbman, and Hometown Truckee SEARS owner Charlie Riley hosted the event.

“We did not attempt to select the best of the best,” said Riley. “It would have been an impossible task; instead we tried to select an individual who embodied the effort, professionalism, creativeness and commitment to the children in North Lake Tahoe that all of the finalists showed.”

Holiday attended Sierra Nevada College’s teaching program and received a Bilingual Cross Cultural Language and Academic Development Elementary credential. She began her teaching career at Kings Beach Elementary, where she has taught for more than 17 years.

Holiday uses an inquiry based teaching model to excite her students about learning. Parents commend Holiday for engaging and inspiring her bilingual first-grade students. She brings high energy and a can-do attitude to Kings Beach Elementary as a classroom teacher and through various additional campus roles.

“The level of dedication here is off the charts, so to even be among the nominees was incredible,” said Holiday, “and when they announced that I won, well, it was amazing.”

Harssema did not always plan to go into teaching. While studying outdoor education he saw the value of working with groups and enjoyed educating youth. After earning a masters from Sierra Nevada College, Harssema accepted a position at Incline Elementary School five years ago.

Nominators recognized Harssema’s creative use of projects and community resources to bring curriculum alive for his second-grade students. Last year his students created an Incline History Museum where students acted as docents to educate their peers about the history of Incline Village.

“To be honest I’m still a little shocked by the whole thing,” said Harssema. “Thanks to all the local sponsors for their support and vision to bring positive recognition to all the hard working teachers of North Tahoe and Truckee.”

Holiday and Harssema were awarded prizes donated by local businesses, including Cottonwood Restaurant, The Office BOSS, Glo Spa, Moody’s Bistro, Plumas Bank and Truckee’s Hometown SEARS.

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