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Discovery tabs Harlow as top staffer

MADISON – Debra Harlow looks at her co-workers as family at Discovery Middle School. Harlow is 2019 “Staff Member of the Year.”

“When I say these people are my family, I sincerely mean it,” Harlow said. “They have seen me through some extremely tough times and been a lifeline for me. We are a close group, and I love every one of them.”

“I am so blessed to be at Discovery. I smile when I walk through the doors each morning because I belong here,” she said.

In 1996, Harlow started managing Discovery’s after-school care program for fifth- and sixth-graders. “The next year, I started as library/media aide and have been here since that time. Loving every minute of it,” she said.

Over the years, Harlow has met numerous students who left a lasting impression. “Most were ones that I made a connection with over a book we both loved. I can’t explain the thrill of having a non-reader come in, and, after finishing a book I recommended, telling me how much he or she enjoyed it and requests another like that one,” Harlow said.

“Reading, at least my love of reading, has been what I try to transfer to the students that pass through the library,” she said. “I have bonded with a lot of kids through a good book.”

In 1987, the Harlows moved to Madison from Huntsville. “We moved to Madison because we liked the small-town, community feel. I’ve never regretted that move,” she said.

“My husband passed away five years ago after working for many years at Intergraph. It’s hard for me to write that I have one son and one daughter because I lost a son three years ago,” Harlow said.

“I have six grandchildren but I lost a granddaughter six months ago,” Harlow said. “So, I guess technically I have two children and six grandchildren, but I will always, in my heart, have three children and seven grandchildren.”

Harlow is an active member of Monrovia Church of Christ.

After her first love of books, Harlow likes dogs, coffee and Harry Potter. “I wish I loved yard and house work but I would rather be reading, with my dogs and cat lying beside me, a cup of coffee in hand, surrounded by my Harry Potter stuff,” she said.

“Fortunately, my wonderful family and friends just shake their heads and put up with me and all my idiosyncrasies,” Harlow said.

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