Dr. Harry Forgan is one dedicated ‘Cane. UM wallpaper covers every wall in his office. A giant plush Ibis head rests in a corner above his desk, as little UM lights wrap around bookshelves, chairs, and the doorframe. An extra-large plush Curious George sits atop a UM-themed outdoor bench, sporting a very fashionable orange-and-green boa around his neck.
Aside from being a hard-core fan, Dr. Forgan, a professor at the School of Education, is dedicated to his job and his students.
“I became an elementary school teacher because I wanted to help children learn how to read and the other basics,” Dr. Forgan said.
Graduating with a doctorate from Kent State University, Dr. Forgan came to UM at the age of 26. Now 62, Dr. Forgan grew up at UM, dedicating 36 years of his career to helping UM students of today become the successful teachers of tomorrow.
“I decided my freshman year of college that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher,” Forgan said. “I wanted to help those children that were having difficulties…especially those children who were behind because of their learning disabilities.
“I thought I’d have more influence on teachers,” Forgan said, reminiscing on why he decided to teach at the college level. “I hear a lot of success stories UM students have had with their own students. So, that’s very satisfying.”
His opinion on what makes a great teacher?
“A great teacher first of all cares about the students. If you don’t really have a sense of caring and commitment to the students then you don’t have the faith in them, you don’t have the high expectations,” Forgan said. “Being a caring person and a competent teacher really makes the difference.”
“The best part of my job is working at West Lab School when the UM teachers teach kindergarten throgh sixth graders. We’re fortunate to have an elementary school right on our campus. I teach my classes at that lab school and the UM students actually get a chance to teach. They enjoy that so much and I love being there with them.”
Dr. Forgan has some advice for all incoming aspiring teachers:
“Volunteer. Get into the schools as soon as possible. There are opportunities [everywhere], even on our campus at Canterbury preschool. The sooner you get involved in the actual instruction of the children, the better.”
Forgan has also authored and co-authored many books, both practical and textbook alike, that have been used in universities all across the U.S. And teaching runs in Forgan’s family. His wife and two children are all educators.
“All of the people in our family are teachers. And we have four grandchildren, and they’re all going to be teachers,” Forgan said with a chuckle.
Forgan was on sabbatical last year, researching and studying independently. This year, he will resume teaching TAL 420, Introduction to Literacy Instruction in the Elementary School, and TAL 421, Literacy Instruction in the Elementary School II.
“Check in to all the different schools and see what the different programs are because we have so many different options here at the University of Miami. It’s hard to decide before you come…so keep your options open, and think about being a teacher. ”
Christine Dominguez can be contacted at