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A veteran teacher in the school district is set to leave this summer, leaving behind a legacy of strong relationship building and creative flares to curriculum.

COURTESY PHOTO: KATIE LARSON - A veteran teacher in the school district is set to leave this summer.
After over three decades as an educator in the Lake Oswego School District, Katie Larson will leave behind a lasting legacy upon retirement.

Larson knew early on the impact teachers can have on a student. While growing up in Tangent, which is nestled between Albany and Corvallis, Larson found solace in her classroom.

"I went to a really small school and loved all my teachers. It was always a happy place to be and also was a creative outlet for me to explore my interests. So, because of that, I saw school as a best-of-both-worlds type of place to be creative and work with kids," she said.

After graduating high school, Larson made the short trip to Oregon State University where she initially did not declare her major. But after some encouragement from her sorority sisters who were in the education field, she made the transition.

She received her Bachelor's of Elementary Education from Oregon State University in 1988 and followed with her Masters of Education shortly thereafter. Larson joined the Lake Oswego School District immediately after graduating and has taught primarily at Hallinan with short stints at River Grove and Oak Creek elementary schools.

Over the years, as modern technology made its appearance in schools and papers and chalkboards shifted to computers and smartboards, Larson made sure that her students' enjoyment was the focal point of her curriculum and extracurriculars.

Some of Larson's favorite memories were working with students on a huge play about Western cowboys or watching student's interact with history on field trips to the Capitol and Fort Vancouver Historic site.

Hallinan Principal Melissa Griffiths said that the veteran teacher is also well-known for incorporating her creative flare into lesson plans.

"I love teaching writing and art — sometimes in conjunction with one another. I find that writing is a way for kids to express themselves and it's so open-ended and personalized for kids at different levels. And art teaches kids that success and the end goal can look different ways depending on the creator," she said.

One lesson that stuck out to Larson was to bring history to life by instructing her students to write, produce and act in their short plays about American history.COURTESY PHOTO: KATIE LARSON - Larson began her career as an educator back in 1989 at River Grove elementary school in the Lake Oswego School District.

"I always feel like if I'm not having fun, then my kids must not be having a good time either," she said. "I very rarely do things the same way every year to keep it new and fresh."

For educators just sinking their teeth into the profession, Larson's best piece of advice is to focus on not only relationships with students but fellow educators and families.

"Put students first," she said. "Build solid relationships with your teammates and your students and families. Create the best team you can and always work together to support each other."

Although the next chapter of Larson's life will be spent traveling and maybe taking an art class or two, her legacy will continue to linger in the Hallinan hallways long after she leaves.

"I'll miss the kids, my colleagues, and the parents of these students so much," said Larson. "Hallinan was a very positive and happy place to be in and it was such a huge part of my life with a really compelling community that I was lucky to be part of."

A celebration party in honor of Larson's retirement will be held at 3:30 p.m. June 2 at the elementary school's garden. All are welcome to join.

"She has made a significant impact in the lives of our students," said Griffith. "And also, with our staff members, as a veteran teacher with years of experience and strategies to look up to. She will leave a legacy behind."

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