Return to Headlines

Culture of Kindness Spotlight: Tom Harn, South Bay Elementary School

Tom playfully talking to students outside the schoolEach month we feature a staff member who embodies our 2023-24 district theme, Culture of Kindness. Tom Harn is a paraeducator at South Bay Elementary School.

Tom goes above and beyond in creating a positive, welcoming environment for South Bay students, staff, bus drivers, and visitors. He greets students by name and is an excellent listener, working to make sure everyone feels welcome and included in the South Bay community. The school theme at South Bay this year is “HARNess your Kindness” to recognize how hard Tom works and the positivity he shares at the school.

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born and raised in Lacey. I have three brothers and a sister.  My mom, Cookie, ran a daycare from her house, so I grew up around lots of kids. My dad, also named Tom, was an auto shop teacher at Yelm High School. I am married to a beautiful nurse named Lissa, who works at Providence St. Peter Hospital. My parents made our house a magical place. Daycare kids didn't want to go home, and neighborhood kids would come over every Friday for party night, homemade pizza, and watching old 16mm films Dad would check out at the library. That magic I want to recreate at South Bay. Oh, and I also really like paintball.

What do you like best about your job? 

I love that every day is always something different. The kids keep me young and on my toes. My job challenges me mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

Tom talking to a parent and students while playing mini golfWhat does a Culture of Kindness mean to you? 

We all lead busy lives; we all get absorbed in our day-to-day activities and sometimes we need a moment to pause and enjoy a treat. I like Wednesdays at South Bay Elementary, because it’s treat day. I get to wear a bright tropical shirt and carry around a bag filled with treats for all our staff, bus drivers, district workers, and volunteers. I really like making people smile and for a moment connecting with them and hopefully making their day a little brighter and better.

Smiles and kindness are contagious. I have no idea what people are going through in their lives.  So, offering a smile and a treat is something I can do to make everyone feel appreciated for how hard they work. One of our core values here is to be kind. It’s my job to foster that culture and encourage positive interactions. I like to "HARNess" the Kindness.