A home brimming with glitter | Mother’s Day profile with Monee

If you see Miramonee Harrington at any given time, she likely has a young person hanging onto her body.

Whether it’s her child or someone else’s is hard to say.

“I can’t walk between classrooms anymore! If a student sees me, they latch on,” she said. “The students bring me so much joy. They are honest and don’t try to hide who they are. They exist without being self-conscious.”

Known by all as “Monee,” she is a fixture at Salmonberry School, where she is a teacher for the Cedars class and board president.

“Here at school, Monee’s genuine love for kids is a constant and infectious presence. Good vibes surround her everywhere she goes on campus and children of all ages are drawn to her like magnets,” said Salmonberry Director Paul Freedman.

Monee is also a mom to 9-year-old Eleanor, who is in the Eagles class.

“When Eleanor was at Children’s House Preschool, I joined the board. When she began going to school at Salmonberry, I was an avid volunteer and then hired as a teacher. You have to work so much here on Orcas, and I was missing time with her. Now we go to school together, we see each other at recess. We’re always together,” said Monee, who sells real estate at Orcas Island Realty in addition to her educational gig.

Monee grew up in Bothell, Washington, and moved to Hat Island when she was 12 and her sister was 10. It has a population of around 50 people and is located in Snohomish County.

“My mom was terrified of me going to junior high so we moved to a remote island and she home-schooled us. You could fit it inside Eastsound — there’s nothing there!” explained Monee. “My mom tried to instill the importance of education, art and music. She let our art interest guide our curriculum.”

As a result of that appreciation for education, Monee became a professional student, earning a long list of post-secondary credits on a variety of topics. Ultimately, she earned a degree in anthropology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“I was ambivalent for a period of time. I was happy with my life either way. When her dad Cory and I decided to have kids, I read everything I could on evolutionary biology and how it related to children and parenting,” Monee recalls. “I approached it very scientifically and then she came out and I was like ‘Oh.’ I couldn’t just go by books. I’m glad I did all the prepping but she’s her own person. I had a lot of growth in learning to regulate my feelings and express myself. We’ve learned that together.”

When Eleanor was a year old, the family decided to move to Portland, Oregon but visited Orcas for a bit in the interim. They felt a pull to stay and chose a new spot to call home. Monee’s mom had already relocated to Portland but she quickly pivoted and now lives across the street.

“My mom will follow me anywhere!” Monee laughed.

Monee and Cory are now divorced and committed to co-parenting Eleanor, who has a variety of after-school activities. She is a dedicated dance student with near-daily classes. At any recital at Orcas Center, Monee can be found backstage helping corral children.

“Dance mom is definitely my third job,” she said.

Monee’s sister lives in Hawaii so she and Eleanor travel to Oahu several times a year.

“Eleanor is the best travel buddy. I always thought kids were hard to travel with but she never gets grumpy, she carries her own luggage. She is not phased by any of it,” Monee said.

The mother and daughter duo like to nurture a fruit and vegetable garden; go on hikes; read together daily; and cuddle up for “snack dinner and movie night.” They have three cats and a dog and are welcoming two baby bunnies over Mother’s Day weekend.

Eleanor loves that her mom is silly, cooks and bakes with her and has taught her math. She describes Monee as a “crazy animal person” and a “wonderful” mother who has taught her to brush her hair, handle cats and bunnies and that it’s okay to lie on the couch and watch television sometimes.

Art and experimenting with new creative projects are an important part of their lives together.

“We enjoy our house filled with glitter,” said Monee, who feels the greatest surprise about motherhood is that it’s equally hard and enjoyable. “She’s my best friend. She’s the coolest human. I never get sick of hanging out with her. I’m happiest as a mom when Eleanor is happy. She has this certain laugh she does that is so genuine! And she’s a kid who is always moving and dancing so to see her calm and at peace is wonderful.”

Baby Eleanor and Monee.

Baby Eleanor and Monee.