Caption: On Thursday, November 5, 2015, Barbon was recognized for her commitment to students and diversity with the Harmony Educator Award at this year’s Harmony Awards Gala.
Even before Debbie Barbon, former Paris District High School teacher, became involved with Harmony Movement and its diversity leadership program in 2011, she promoted the ideals of equity, inclusiveness and individual dignity.
On Thursday, November 5, 2015, Barbon was recognized for her commitment to students and diversity with the Harmony Educator Award at this year’s Harmony Awards Gala.
“To receive this award has been very flattering,” said Barbon. “It has been a collaborative effort to teach these students a new perspective and to celebrate their differences.”
Her interest in sparking conversations about gender identity, religion, different socioeconomic backgrounds, and race was the spark that launched the beginnings of the Diversity Leadership Certificate Program at PDHS in 2011.
She, along with fellow teacher Michelle Barisky, brought students of influence together from various peer groups into a safe space where they could learn, grown and engage in ways that promote dignity, respect and equality at school and in the greater community.
“Watching these students transform has been very rewarding,” Barbon said. “I feel more confident as an educator to send them off into the world with a better basis of information.”
Barbon’s career as an educator, learning resource teacher and student success teacher has been spent fostering acceptance and inclusiveness of the most marginalized in her school community. She has touched many students throughout her career who carry with them fond memories of her compassion and the smile that they describe as not only genuine but radiating through her entire person.
“This award has been a validation that I did do the right thing and the time and energy was well spent, and it’s such a great representation of everyone’s effort,” Barbon said.
She has been the driving force of the school’s Peer Council, a community service group, and has undertaken numerous activities throughout the years from food drives and breakfast programs to peer mentoring and Random Acts of Kindness.
“While her leadership is evident in every aspect of her school, she is at her best when she is providing opportunities for student leaders through her many workshops, activities and programs,” said PDHS teacher Michelle Barisky. “She empowers students and encourages them to engage, find their voice and become leaders not just in the future but for today.”
It is this ability to instill in students a desire and determination to pursue personal goals, personal dignity for all and to become a voice for social change, that make her such a worthy recipient of this award.
Harmony Movement provides interactive diversity and equity education programs that empower and inspire youth, educators and those in the social service sector to develop an equity lens, empathy, respect, and leadership skills as leaders for social change.
Barbon has been a Special Education Teacher Consultant since September 2015.