Dr. Harshman dedicated her life to education. Over a span of more than 30 years she held a variety of positions that included elementary teacher, program specialist, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and superintendent of a large urban school district.
Karen excelled in all the positions she held and as superintendent gave to the community as well as the school district.
As a breast cancer survivor she led the district in sponsoring and hosting the large RELAY FOR LIFE event for many years. She was an advocate for the causes she believed in and actively participated in those causes.
Among her many accomplishments as Superintendent, Karen created an elementary music program and promoted art in education. She believed in educating the ‘whole’ child with experiences in art, music and the sciences.
Dr. Harshman was an advocate for early childhood education and led the district in building and implementing one of the largest public preschool programs in the state. She impacted children and students in her community and district from ages 3 to 18.
As Superintendent of a large, urban Unified School District, Dr. Harshman was the visionary behind Standards Plus. She believed every student could succeed, that the income of the family or the background of the student’s should not matter, and that all students should have equal opportunity to grade level standards that allowed them to achieve.
She provided the vision, the guidance and support so teachers and administrators in the district could design, and write Standards Plus lessons using research as the guide.
Following a district-wide implementation of the Standards Plus Program, the district gained national recognition and received two national awards for overall student achievement by receiving the national DISPELLING THE MYTH AWARD presented to her in Washington D.C. by then Secretary of Education Rod Paige, and the ALL KIDS ALL STARS TROPHY, both awarded by the Education Trust, established by the American Association of Higher Education.
Under Dr. Harshman’s guidance, the school district outpaced the average statewide student achievement growth five years in a row.