In addition to being hired for the teaching job, he is now also the school’s new boys’ basketball coach.
The 50-year-old Harris replaces John Gaines, who remains at the school as a health and physical education teacher.
For Harris, who was an assistant coach on Eagle’s Landing’s Class AAA boys’ state championship team last season, his hiring as the North Atlanta boys’ basketball coach was a pleasant surprise.
“When [Principal] Dr. [Howard] Taylor called me for the position of a science teacher at North Atlanta and knowing what the school was and where it was going, I was just happy to be a part of the school,” Harris said. “Now, to get this opportunity to be a part of the basketball program, I’m extremely excited and honored by the opportunity.”
Harris was a NCAA Division III All-American during his college playing career at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., from 1981 to ’85 and also played professionally in England during the ’85-86 season.
He also enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer and in the sales field before embarking on a teaching career at Eagle’s Landing in 2007.
It was his basketball background as well as the rest of his resume, which prompted Taylor to offer the school’s boys’ basketball coaching position as well as the teaching job to Harris.
“Dr. Taylor saw my resume and heard me talking in the interview and realized that my overall nature is coaching — that’s how I see teaching,” Harris said. “Actually, I come from the corporate world and that’s how I saw the corporate world. So, I think, Dr. Taylor saw that in me and saw how I did in sports programs like Eagle’s Landing and just kind of put the feeler out if I would be interested and from there, that’s when the conversation started.”
North Atlanta athletic director Doug Britten said Harris is a good fit for the school’s boys’ basketball program.
“I think it’s just a vision of some of the changes that Dr. Taylor wants to happen here at North Atlanta,” Britten said. “It was something he felt very strongly about. Something struck Dr. Taylor about his background and his personality. He thought he would be a great fit for our basketball coach.”
Harris also served as a headmaster at a school in Portugal from 2010 to ’12, taking some time off from his tenure at Eagle’s Landing. He also started a basketball program during his two years at the school.
“It was quite unique for most Europeans,” he said. “It was an eager group. We played some of the local schools, Portuguese and [ex-patriot] international.”
Harris inherits a North Atlanta squad, led by 6-foot-8 Division I prospect Noah Dickerson, which finished 15-11 and barely missed out on qualifying for the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
“Last year was a pretty strong year for them,” he said. “I think we have plenty of talent. The thing we’re going to work on the most is developing our chemistry and working together as a team.”
Harris said having a positive impact on the lives of his players is his primary focus.
“The message is being able to create a program at North Atlanta,” he said. “We want to just not only win championships, but to develop young men so that they’re better prepared for life after high school — whether they pursue [a college basketball career in] Division I or not.
“I believe all the things I’ve achieved over the years came from being a part of a basketball program and I want to be able to convey that and give them the opportunity to really achieve everything they can. So, basketball is a door opener to opportunities I would have never had had I not played, and I think I look at it that way for these young men and that’s the goal here. The staff here is really focused on the whole package, the well-rounded scholar-athlete.”