September 12, 2019

Q&A with Julie Neussl Harrison

Alumni Profile: Julie Neussl Harrison ’00, M.Ed. ’02, Ed.S. ’08, M.Ed. ’12 

Julie Harrison

Julie Harrison

Your home: Clanton, AL 

Tell us about your family:
I am extremely blessed. My family consists of my husband, Chad, of 18 years, two precious daughters (Ellie, 6 and Everlie, 2) and my parents.

What is your profession?
I am an elementary art teacher first and foremost, but my career has also led me to be a yearbook editor for Clanton Elementary School, Youth Art Month chairman and presenter for the Alabama Art Education Association, president of the Kappa Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa Women Educators’ Honor Sorority and Chilton County vice-president/association representative for the Alabama Education Association.

What made you choose this profession?
My love of children and making art led me to be an art educator. Art began as a hobby of mine when I was a child. I took private art classes because we had no art instruction in Chilton County public schools at the time. When I first enrolled at UM, I declared education as my major, but I continued to take art courses as electives and for fun. After teaching kindergarten for three years, I was asked in 2004 to begin a new art program at the elementary school that I attended as a child. I’m proud to say my art program is going strong, and I completed my 15th year in May 2019. This was the first public school art program in Chilton County. I’m grateful to the Lord for this opportunity.

How did Montevallo affect your career path?
My time at Montevallo gave me the opportunity to grow in so many areas. I was able to promote study through my role as scholarship chairman in Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. I was able to find appreciation and beauty in publications by being the editor of the Montage yearbook. UM provided outlets for me to be a leader in many student organizations: Omicron Delta Kappa, Golden Key and Student Alabama Education Association.

Tell us about your involvement with the state’s bicentennial celebration:
Art teachers throughout the state are encouraged to participate in the State Superintendent’s Art Show each year at the capital in Montgomery. The event is normally held from February to March. School systems may only submit their top 10 elementary and 10 high school entries. Due to the Bicentennial, students and art teachers were able to enter art pieces in a special bicentennial category that specifically pertained to Alabama along with a written artist’s statement. The artwork had to showcase a particular aspect of the state’s history, geography, resource, etc. I was so fortunate to have one student winner in 2018 and two winners in 2019 for the K-2 Category.

And the bicentennial map project?
The map was part of a statewide effort followed through by the Alabama Art Education Association painted by art educators and students from across the state. I was asked to paint Chilton County.

What is the best advice you have received?
My papa always said, “Education is something that cannot be taken away from you.” He never graduated from high school in the ’30s because he had to care for his younger siblings and work. He always motivated me to learn all that I can, because he didn’t have the opportunity himself. To this day, I am continually motivated to advance professionally, making art and art education a thing of value and worth for our state and community.

What is your favorite Montevallo memory?
I lived in Main Hall with my AGD sisters. Every evening, with my meal card in hand, I would walk to the Caf for supper. One of my favorite treats was getting a nice tall glass of soft-serve vanilla ice cream and pouring a small amount of coffee on it. It was like having a mini-Starbucks back in 1998 on campus.

What makes alumni of UM unique?
I think being a Montevallo graduate is an honor. Graduates are bound by their roots and the knowledge they gained while walking the brick pathways. I consider the campus, faculty and friends I made during my time a very important part of my life.

What are your hobbies?
I like to teach paint parties, plant flowers, take photos and spend time with my girls and their interests.