KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- Katy ISD says more than 1,200 teachers will join the ranks this school year. Not all of them are new to teaching necessarily, but they are all new to the district.
"I think important advice I give, forget the topic you're teaching, be yourself. Teach who you are because the kids need to make a connection. You might be the smartest person in chemistry in the building, but if you can't connect with kids, they're not going to learn," said teacher Chris Harris.
Giving advice comes naturally to the Taylor High School English teacher, who has been educating, guiding, and motivating students for nearly three decades.
"Starting my 29th year, all here at Taylor," Harris said.
His career, though, has been more than classroom lessons.
He has inspired students through his passion for good stories, solid grammar, and profound writing. But if you ask him, his job is more than just teaching a subject.
"It is a whole lot more than the content that you are hired to teach. You are teaching life skills. You're teaching how to fit into society, how to get along," Harris said.
And his English teaching peers are quick to share his special talent.
"The biggest thing that impresses me about him is his ability to connect with kids. And it's not just a type of kid, it's all types of kids," said teacher Matt Apple.
"He always puts the kids first. Every day before the pandemic, we were shaking hands, but after he's fist-bumping every kid that walks in the door, he greets them as they walk in the door," said teacher Lisa O'Neal.
That makes him a beloved favorite teacher at Taylor High School.
"Extremely engaging, kind, he cared about his students, we felt cared about," said Kathryn Childers, a 2009 graduate.
"He definitely did spark that love of reading back for me my senior year," said Henley Beisert, a 2021 graduate.
"Very funny, professional, smart guy," said Nick Dombalis, a 2010 graduate.
"My whole life, my whole career kind of boils down to me getting scheduled with him as a freshman," said Seba Green, who followed in his footsteps and became an English teacher herself. "I mean, I went to college to be an English teacher."
"Teaching is more about building relationships than teaching a topic, teaching a subject, and I think I'm pretty good at connecting with kids," Harris said.