Hometown: West Plains, Missouri
Occupation: Math Teacher and Basketball Coach
All Degrees: AA General Studies, BA Middle School Education, MA Educational Leadership
One word: “Unforgettable.”
After graduating high school, Jason Harrill was undecided about his future. He had considered several colleges and a variety of degrees, from technology to computer programming to psychology. There was a lot to consider.
Some students start college with a specific, detailed path in mind, and others aren’t so sure. At Missouri State University-West Plains, that’s okay. The dedicated faculty and staff are determined to help students find their passion and succeed at it.
“I had no clue what I wanted to do. Then I started tutoring students and there was no turning back,” Harrill said. “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Missouri State-West Plains helped me along the way, and the academic advisors pointed me in the direction that forever changed my life. ”
“All the teacher education classes prepared me fully for the real world and allowed me to start out as a teacher built for success.”
Though billed as a two-year university, Missouri State-West Plains has access to many resources for students pursuing bachelor degrees, like the Missouri State University Outreach Program and Interactive Video (ITV) services. Harrill was able to take all of his classes on the West Plains campus.
“I’m a very family oriented person, and I knew staying close to home would allow me to see my family every day, as well as take the classes I needed to further my education,” Harrill said. “Our town is one of the greatest in the state, so why not take advantage of saving a little bit of money and staying close to home? I love spending time with my family, and going to Missouri State-West Plains allowed me to do that!”
“I owe everything to the Grizzly Athletic program.”
Beyond awarding him scholarships, Grizzly Athletics gave Harrill the opportunity to develop close friendships with athletes who would eventually move on to Division I programs. It’s also where he met my wife of six years. “As a Grizzly Cheerleader, I got to be up close and personal with some great basketball coaches, including Hall of Fame Coach Tom Barr. I picked up many things that have helped me become a successful coach,” Harrill said.
Harrill uses his experiences to teach young students and give them the tools to be successful. His greatest professional achievement comes around every May when all the hard work he and his students have put in are showcased. “Eighth grade graduation at Junction Hill allows me to look back at how far they’ve come since I’ve had them as a teacher and really makes me optimistic for the future of our youth,” Harrill said. “Every time I see our students graduate, it gives me that special feeling that I, hopefully, played an instrumental part in their success and future successes. That’s what teaching is all about.”