South Jersey educator surprised by Phillies as All-Star Teacher

6abc Digital Staff Image
Friday, May 3, 2024
South Jersey educator surprised by Phillies as All-Star Teacher
Mr. Harding is a former puppeteer, known for wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays, and singing along with students while playing his ukulele.

CINNAMINSON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- In South Jersey, they rolled out the red carpet, literally, for a teacher, who was made to feel like the celebrity that he truly is.

The Phillies helped pull off the huge surprise for Forrest Harding, a fifth grade teacher in Cinnaminson.

Harding thought he was attending a pep rally to kick off standardized testing at Eleanor Rush Intermediate School. Instead, he walked out to find a red carpet that was rolled out for him.

The Phanatic joined more than 600 of Mr. Harding's adoring fans, aka students, to let him know he's been chosen as a Phillies All-Star Teacher.

"I had no idea it was a pep rally for me," Harding laughs.

The Phanatic wore his Hawaiian shirt, because Mr. Harding is famous for wearing one on Fridays and singing along with students while he plays his ukulele.

Harding is a former celebrity puppeteer. He started teaching at the school eight years ago and his philosophy is positivity.

"My thing as a teacher is: never give up," Harding says. "It's the power of 'yet.' If you can't do something, you just can't do it YET!"

Harding got his own Phillies jersey and a Phanatic puppet, which he quickly put to use for the crowd.

Then, it was a conga line with another special guest, former Phillies player and coach Milt Thompson.

And if anyone needed a few more reasons why Mr. Harding is truly an all star, just ask his students.

"He deserves it all," says 5th grader Allie Rosengarten. "He's an amazing teacher. He takes pride in what he does."

"It's an honor to have him as a teacher," added 5th grader Mason Sawyer. " He's been really fun this year. He's sparked our classroom and it wouldn't be the same without him."

Friday night, Harding will join nine other local All-Star Teachers for Teacher Appreciation Night at Citizens Bank Park, with a ceremony happening right before the Phillies take on the San Francisco Giants.