Harrisburg Elementary School kindergarten teacher Amy Harris has expanded her teaching beyond the classroom by offering swimming lessons to local children at her neighborhood pool in Fort Mill.
“I have always loved swimming at the pool,” said Harris, 43. “I adore kids too, so this puts those two passions of mine together.”
During the months of June and July, Harris holds lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the community pool in the Waterstone subdivision in Fort Mill. She works with children as young as 2 years old, although she tells parents that children that young will most likely not learn to swim independently their first season.
“Instead, we focus on skills like using the kickboard, blowing bubbles (and) going underwater while holding their breath,” she said. “It is more of a water familiarization class for my youngest students.”
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All of the lessons are private, which allows her to get to know her students on an individual basis.
“I tailor individualized lessons that challenge each student and, when necessary, eases their fears,” she said.
Harris, who has been providing swimming lessons since 1992 and completed a water safety instruction class in 1994, says her schedule fills up pretty regularly every summer.
“I have a fair amount of repeat business from summer to summer,” she said.
“Plus, once my students graduate from needing my services, their parents often share my contact information with friends of theirs who have children who need to learn or strengthen their swimming skills.”
This year, three of the students who just completed kindergarten with her at Harrisburg Elementary made the trip across town to attend swimming lessons.
“It was so rewarding to teach them individually in the pool after teaching them in a larger classroom environment all year,” she said.
With all of her students though, Harris said, the reward is knowing the difference she is making.
“I cherish knowing that when I have taught a child how to swim, how to tread water when being too tired to swim and how to float when being too tired to tread water, I know that I have provided a set of lifesaving skills for that person,” she said.
“(That) creates an amazing sense of gratitude for me.”