Lincoln Elementary third grade teacher Kelsey Larson’s career took an unexpected path when a trip changed her life.
“I was thinking about physical therapy or dental hygiene,” Larson said of her future. “I had so many different things I was thinking about.”
While a student at Independence Community College, the Iola native returned each summer to work with SAFE BASE, the district’s after-school program.
One year, SAFE BASE took their kids to Colorado for a one-week trip. It was on that excursion that Larson heard teaching calling her name.
Under her wing were a group of girls that she took whitewater rafting, hiking, visiting museums and riding a train.
Larson was a student athlete who played basketball, but injured herself in her freshman season and was redshirted at ICC. Larson said she had always liked the idea of coaching, but was surprised when teaching came into view.
After earning her associate degree from ICC, she transferred to Baker University and graduated with a degree in elementary education last May.
Coming straight from college, Larson said she enjoys preparing for and teaching her class. There are plenty of new concepts she sees that can’t be taught as a student.
“I’m learning something new every day,” Larson said. “I either do something new or change what I was doing before. When the kids come in and learn, I am learning with them.”
Larson is credentialed to teach all elementary ages from kindergarten to as high as sixth grade. While adjusting to teaching has had its share of transition, she said it has been good learning the curriculum. Her fellow teachers are a big resource, she said.
“At an attendance center I can go to five different teachers for help about third grade,” she said. “Our administration has been very good.”
Larson said it’s been easy for her to return to Iola.
“If you want to help the community, what better way to come back and actually do something? That’s how I looked at it,” she said.
Larson admitted she was “a mess” on the first day of school. With 16 students, she saw the challenges of being a teacher. However, she has plenty of ambition to help steer her course.
“An obvious goal is to be a better teacher by the end of the school year,” Larson said. “I have all kinds of goals. I want to be more confident in what I’m doing. That confidence will make me a better teacher.”
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