Rozalia Harris comes from a large family, the 8th of 11 children of Earl & Dorothy Johnson who will be celebrating 67 years of marriage on March 25th. My parents instilled in me the importance of balancing family life and work ethics”. Rozalia is the only child with a college degree, both Bachelors and Masters degrees. Both of her parents have retired from Milwaukee Public Schools [MPS]. Her professional career began in the AODA field where she worked as a counselor and case manager with adults whose life was impacted by alcohol and drugs. Even though the work was rewarding, she didn’t seem to be fulfilling her purpose in life so pursued her education to study elementary education and has been working for MPS as a teacher since 1994.
Known as Rose, to friends and family, she reiterated in an interview, “I believed I could contribute to my community not only helping adults but helping children achieve their potential. Education is the key to our future.”
Harris, an elected Vice President, of the teachers union MTEA (Milwaukee Teacher’s Education Association), said as a union officer I feel it is my responsibility to focus on helping all children and educators thrive. She notes, “The MTEA promotes quality public schools by putting supporting reforms that are in the best interest of children, developing professional strengths among educators, insuring needed classroom resources, and reaching out to the families in our community. Education for our children must be a family priority these days in the information economy.
Harris has active serving on WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council) Board of Directors and has served as past chair of their Human Relations Committee. Most currently, since 2005, Rose serves as the Minority Community Outreach Co-Chair because of its importance as a bridge between teachers and community families and parents.
Although Harris pursued educating children as her special chosen career, she has continued to dedicate 20+ years of community volunteerism working with families whose life and welfare have been compromised by someone who was addicted to alcohol and drugs.
For over 21 years, she has been volunteering services with Friendship Incorporated, a non-profit community based organization that works with the whole family providing education, resources and social activities in a drug-free environment. Rose is proud to be a part of helping people who have walked through the doors of the Friendship club and have become productive citizens who give back to their community as teachers, nurses, private contractors, business owners, and adult students going to college to pursue careers.
Given the depressed state of the economy and the many challenges Milwaukee community faces, Rozalia says she here for the long haul. In light of all Mrs. Harris’ community service, she also contributes her motivating factors as mentor to her 11-year-old grandson, Damion Rayvell for whom she must advocate and educate as extended family. Roz, as a take on Rose, and her husband, Wendell, have cared for their grandson since he was 4 months old. With the compassionate love of a grandma Rozalia Harris emphasizes, ”My grandson is the fuel that now sparks my fire; a young African American male who odds are not good with our changing government, lack of resources, inadequate community support, and the rapidly shifting democratic society.
“We must become the Village it takes to raise a child. We have our work cut out for us and indeed, ‘It takes a village to raise a family’. I will continue to stand up, and stand strong with the help of great leaders who have come before me, those currently working in our community, those yet to come, and help from my God. ‘Democracy will prevail.‘