Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton and Principal Jay Bidwell said they in Lana Harrison’s classroom at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School just to observe.

Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton and Principal Jay Bidwell said they in Lana Harrison’s classroom at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School just to observe.

Seriously, just observing.

A few seconds later, as a bouquet of roses was carried in by a contingent from the district offices, Norton offered to Harrison that the whole thing was a ruse.

And Harrison responded, arms raised, a wide smile crossing her face, by rushing toward Bidwell for a huge embrace.

Norton, of course, received the next hug and, naturally, Sheriff Mike Harrison, for this morning last week husband Mike Harrison, also received a dose of sugar.

In fact, the whole Harrison clan, including three children enrolled at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, had been rounded up to invade mom’s class.

“I am so excited, thank you,” Harrison said, before turning to her honors class and shared to a class of kids clearly wondering: what in the world?

Their teacher was Gulf District School’s Teacher of the Year.

Selected by a team of out-of-county educators that observed a slate of four candidates, one from each school site, last month, Harrison will now compete in Orlando this coming spring for the title of Florida Teacher of the Year.

In addition to the roses, she also received $500 from the district.

“There were a lot of great choices,” Norton said. “There was consensus though in selecting Lana Harrison.

“It’s an honor we could all be here.”

Harrison, in her 11th year with Gulf District Schools, teaches science, including biology, anatomy and physiology at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School.

She is also the sponsor the recently-formed HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) club at the school, which advanced to state competition in its first year during the 2015-2016 school year.

“Lana has the invaluable gift of motivation, which is evidenced by the enthusiasm demonstrated by her students in the classroom,” said Karen Turner, the school guidance counselor. “Students who refuse to complete assignments and tasks in other classrooms always seem to perform for Mrs. Harrison.

Her easy and confident manner with students was on full display last week as she basked in a morning that had transformed from eye doctor visit to work to honors.

“She is tireless in her pursuit of becoming the very best teacher she can be for her students,” Turner added.

Maintaining that health and science theme, Harrison is also involved leading the school’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) chapter and is involved with Upward Basketball and the high school’s pre-medical field program.

She is also an active member of the football booster club, helping to provide the team pre-game meals.

Harrison was selected from among a group that also included Krissy Gentry from Port St. Joe Elementary School, Pat Hendricks from Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School and Niki Calareso from Wewahitchka Elementary School.