John Harrington, Cecilia Raffo

St. Helena High School and RLS Middle School teacher John Harrington stands with Cecilia Raffo, president of the St. Helena Public Schools Foundation, after he was named Teacher of the Year.

The St. Helena Public Schools Foundation’s Teacher of the Year award is going to John Harrington, who’s known for blending technology with pure fun.

Shooting “Star Wars” scenes in front of a green screen is one example of the entertaining and informative projects students have been assigned by Harrington, who teaches technology at RLS Middle School and computer science at St. Helena High School.

The foundation, which awards grants to teachers at all four schools, gives an annual award to the teacher who does the best job using those grants to “elevate and enhance” the curriculum they teach. Harrington’s win, which came as a surprise to him, was announced on April 25 during an event held at Merryvale to thank the supporters of the annual Give Big fundraiser.

Harrington has been applying for and receiving grants for eight years, said Cecilia Raffo, president of the foundation. He is always striving to provide his students with the best and most up-to-date equipment.

“Kids look like they are having a lot of fun, but are learning a lot at the same time,” Raffo said.

In addition to technology, Harrington promotes physical fitness, once writing a grant for soccer balls for a lunchtime intramural program at RLS.

Harrington thanked the foundation, the school parent-teacher groups, and administrators who’ve “always been supportive of everything I’ve done.”

Harrington has been instrumental in building the high school’s Career Technical Education Pathway in Software and Systems Development.

Ben Scinto, principal at St. Helena High School, said students in Harrington’s classes have designed and created a Digital Scene using JavaScript, cracked encrypted files, developed a mobile game using JavaScript, built and coded VEX robots, and engineered a suspension bridge with a 3D printer.

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St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.