INDEPENDENCE — Teenagers are at that perfect age: nearly adults, but still open-minded to new ideas and fresh perspectives.
That’s one thing Roseanna Larson loves about teaching them.
“It’s a time of tremendous growth and opportunity to have an impact on kids,” said Larson, 42, language arts teacher at Central High School.
Larson was named Secondary Teacher of the Year by her peers in the Central Education Association.
“I had no intention of becoming a teacher when I graduated from high school,” Larson said. “I went back to school later when my kids were all going to school full time.”
Larson is a 1990 graduate of Central High, and was happy to come back to the community she loves.
Many of the relationships she has with students comes from having gotten to know them first as friends of her own children.
“We’re pretty involved in what our kids are doing,” Larson said. “It makes classroom management easier when you know a lot of the students and their parents.”
Teaching is all about building relationships, she said, and she tells aspiring teachers at Western Oregon University that, too. She teaches content pedagogy for language arts classes at WOU.
“Your students will come along with you to study anything you ask them to study if they buy in that you care,” Larson said.
Education has seen a shift from being focused on the teacher to being focused on the student, Larson said.
She is concerned about the way education is steering away from counting homework and meeting deadlines in the grading process with proficiency grading.
“It’s not that (homework and deadlines) don’t matter, but it doesn’t show up in the grade, which is what kids see,” Larson said. “It matters to them. I’m concerned about how we can help kids realize that deadlines do matter in life.”
Those life skills are not stressed as much as they used to be, Larson said.
She said it is as important for parents to stay involved in their child’s education in high school as it is in kindergarten and first grade.
“Having a connection in high school is just as important,” Larson said. “I think sometimes that’s where students kind of drift, and their parents kind of drift, too.”
Polk County Itemizer-Observer
by Emily Mentzer