Foundation honors top 20 AHS students, influential teachers

Rebecca R. Bibbs | The Herald BulletinAnderson High School senior Brandon Haralson chose government teacher G. Randall Harrison, shown on plaque, as the top local educator influencing his academic achievements. Because of dual-credit courses offered at the high school, Haralson expects to start IU's Kelley School of Business as a sophomore this fall.

ANDERSON – As other students presented their favorite Anderson High School teachers to about 100 people at the Tanglewood Conference Center, Brandon Haralson studied the index cards with his comments.

The senior credits his mother’s high expectations for making him No. 12 in the Class of 2019.

“Grades have been my biggest focus. I honestly would attribute that to my parents,” the 2019 class president said.

But there is at least one other person Haralson credits with his preparedness to study business management at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in the fall: AHS government teacher G. Randall Harrison. Because of dual-credit courses offered at the high school, Haralson expects to start college as a sophomore.

Haralson was one of 20 students and their most influential teachers honored Wednesday at the inaugural Top 20 Academic Achievement and Influential Educator Awards Program, hosted by the Anderson Education Foundation.

Harrison is equally complimentary of Haralson.

“I wish I had him more than one semester,” he said. “When we do have a dialogue, he seems to be dialed in.”

Haralson’s mother, Shantel Haralson, said she admires her son for making the juggling of school, varsity basketball and a job seem effortless.

“Brandon never ceases to amaze me. He is just well-received by everyone,” she said. “He’s definitely setting an example for his two younger brothers.”

Students were presented with a plaque that showed them with their most influential teacher.

Foundation Director Kay Bale said the event came through discussions with Anderson Community Schools retirees and alumni about ways the foundation can support the schools.

“We are looking at some new ways to sort of spread our mission,” she said.

Bale said she would like to see the mutual admiration event become annual and be supported primarily by alumni.

“We’re looking at ways to involve our alumni, and I think this would be a good one,” she said.

Like Haralson, Bale said, most of the students are so well-rounded in their academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and community service that she had to plan the event with the school athletic directors to find a date that would work.

ACS Superintendent Timothy Smith told the students, their families and the teachers that his goal as a teacher when he entered education three decades ago was to change the life of at least one student each year.

“Teachers, you are here because you reached that goal,” he said.

Smith also had a message for the parents.

“This is a very proud moment, hopefully, for all the families. Congratulations on a job well done with your kids,” he said.

Anderson High School Principal Eric Davis said he was excited to have a new opportunity to honor the academic achievement of students.

“It shows them that we care greatly about academics,” he said.