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Heritage Day: Harrises dedicate lives to educate and love Lehi children



John Jay and Kinna Bixler Harris have a combined 54 years of teaching in Lehi. Their quiet and graceful service, without expectation of recognition or reward, goes beyond the classroom and into the homes of their family and neighbors.

Kinna has taught second grade at Sego Lily Elementary for 19 years. John Jay has taught first, second and third grade studentswith autism for 35 years. He has instructed at the Developmental Center in American Fork, Dan Peterson School, Scera Park Elementary, Eaglecrest Elementary and currently Belmont Elementary. One of his hobbies is collecting precious stones, polishing them to a high shine and then hiding them in school playgrounds for children to discover.

For 20 years, John Jay was a teacher and director at Clear Creek Summer Camp, Alpine School District’s outdoor education camp for children the summer before sixth grade. Just outside of Scofield, the camp is dedicated to helping students appreciate the forests, water, soil and wildlife.

“Our children, both those we have raised and the hundreds we have taught over the years, are our greatest legacy,” said Kinna. 

Born in 1966 to William and Patricia Bixler of Oceanside, Calif., Kinna grew up in North San Diego County. She excelled at gymnastics and diving as well as academics. She earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology from BYU and worked for the State Health Dept. 

She paused her career to raise their four children before returning to school to complete a master’s degree in education.When her children were in school, she served as PTA president.

Kinna is passionate about family history research and is an avid gardener and quilter. “Mom has sewn countless blankets for new babies in the neighborhood and grows too much in her garden every year with the express intention to share it with her community,” said Raynes.

Kinna’s fiancé, a good friend of John Jay’s, introduced her to John Jay in 1987, and the rest is history. She and John Jay were married on June 24, 1988, in the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have four children and seven grandchildren.


The son of Jerry and Annette Harris, John Jay was one of ten children. He was also born in California, but his family moved to Lehi in 1972, when he was seven years old. He attended Sego Lily Elementary, Lehi Junior High School and Lehi High School. He enjoyed helping with the family business—Purple Pig Pizza. He went to Snow College before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ in San Jose, Calif. 

In addition to his teaching, John Jay is a talented musician, deejaying dances and community events and playing the drums for The Shane Lee Band. He is always playing in various bands for Arts in the Park while Kinna hops from person to person having meaningful conversations and making connections with longtime friends. These efforts are always warmly welcomed by friends and community.

John Jay is also a photographer. He has taken mission photos forcountless missionaries as well as families and at Lehi Heritage Day, for the Fire Dept. and church.

The couple has contributed to the Lehi community whenever and however they can, driving the Miss Lehi float in parades, working at the Lehi Round-up Rodeo and serving on the Lehi Old Folks Committee.

“We absolutely love Lehi and have watched it grow from a beautiful little community with dirt sidewalks and no stop lights to the amazing city it has become,” said Kinna.

“Truly, my parents love Lehi and the people they get to share this city with,” said Sydney Raynes, Harrisses daughter.

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