Tina Larsen, a third-grade teacher at St. John Bosco Catholic School, recently was awarded Private School Teacher of the Year by the Arizona Council for American Private Education (AZCAPE) and the Arizona private school community.

More than 200 private school leaders were nominated for the prestigious award.

Larsen was honored during a banquet on Oct. 22 at the Goldwater Institute and was selected for her exemplified criteria as having passion for education and the community she serves, valuing innovation and creativity, instilling leadership by example, and promoting giving back to the community.

When receiving her award, Larsen felt two different emotions: a surprise feeling and honored that she had been recognized for her exceptional work as an instructor.

“It was just the most amazing gift that anyone could ever give me,” she said.

Larsen shared the moment with her family, who attended the banquet, and when her name was called each family member screamed out with excitement.

Over the years, Larsen’s family has given full support toward her career, with her three sons helping each year to set up her classroom.

Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at San Diego State University with an emphasis in teaching, and a master’s degree in education.

After college, Larsen began teaching for four years, but chose to take a 12-year hiatus from teaching to become a mom.

She returned to teaching at St. John Bosco Catholic School when her youngest of three boys entered first grade, dating back seven years ago.

During the first five years of teaching at the school Larsen taught first grade, and last year made the decision to become a third-grade teacher.

Teaching first grade was a different experience for Larsen because she had never taught that grade before, but enjoyed each moment.

“I was ready for a change. I love the little ones, but I was ready for something different and always wanted to teach third grade,” she said.

The curriculum that Larsen has for her students doesn’t consist of one topic, but focuses on different subjects throughout the day like science, math, technology, language arts, etc.

Larsen’s enjoyment and passion for her job comes from being able to work with her students on a daily basis.

“For me it’s the kids,” she said. “Just to see their little faces everyday and those little smiles looking at me so eager to learn, that’s why I keep coming back every year.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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