Why I Teach: John Harris, Middle School STEAM Teacher

Holly Caldwell
Middle School STEAM teacher John Harris thrives on the moments when information becomes crystallized in a student’s mind: “It could be any subject, any day, any project, but it’s rewarding to see them become confident enough to then teach that knowledge to someone else.”

An engineer by training, John’s background informs his everyday interactions with students: “I tell my students all the time that I will never make them do anything that can’t be applied to the real world.” One area in which this rings true often involves math, and how some students struggle with or even fear the subject: “I show them how to embrace math and use it as a language to create the things they want to in STEAM.” For John, math allows him “to open doors” and he wants to instill this concept in his students.

John has found a home in teaching Middle School because, “Every day is a new adventure. It’s fun to see the transition in each student as they become the people they want to become.”

Life’s path
Education: Villanova University
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Mensa & Engineering Honors Fraternity

STEAM & Math Teacher
The Shipley School

Founder & Coach
Upper Merion Viking Youth Lacrosse Program

Harris Consulting, Inc.

Mr. Harris’s This & That

A man of many hobbies: John enjoys playing guitar, gardening, fishing, and making things in his home MakerSpace, among many other hobbies.
Favorite STEAM project: For the Tin Can Artscapes, students designed and laser cut 3D layers out of Baltic birch to create stunning tiny landscapes.
On the road: “I’ve driven boats, bikes, cars, trucks, excavators, motorcycles, ATVs, and tractors.”
Sightseer: John has visited every US state but four.
Music man: “I’ve seen over 100 concerts.”
Hosts with the most: John and his wife, Kate, have hosted seven students from Asia attending local schools over the years.
Fun Shipley fact: His favorite time of year takes place the last two weeks of the school year, during the Generations Project—a longstanding tradition at Shipley, when students do school the way they want, without books, bells, or assigned schedules.
Favorite personal project: “I was blessed enough to marry one of my daughters and made the arch she was married under.”
At home: John and Kate have six daughters, two sons-in-law, two grandkids, and two dogs.


The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.