Steamboat Springs Amy Larson’s appreciation for the men and women who served in the armed forces began at an early age.
While growing up in Hot Springs, S.D., the current Soda Creek Elementary School music teacher sang to veterans at the local VA hospital. She said that experience has stayed with her.
“I saw them from that light as a young person,” Larson said. “I believe it started me on the path of honoring vets.”
Larson, who’s been at Soda Creek for nine years, organizes the school’s annual Veterans Day program. During the program, fifth-graders sing and recite messages to thank local vets in attendance.
That program is the reason Larson was recognized last week with two awards, said Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4264 Commander Tony Weiss. Weiss presented Larson with the VFW’s District Teacher of the Year award for her work during the 2007-08 school year in Northwest Colorado. Weiss also presented Larson with the VFW’s Teacher of the Year award for Colorado, which was awarded for the same time period.
Weiss said Larson would have been recognized sooner, but Soda Creek didn’t have the Veterans Day program last year because the school still was using a temporary facility while the new building was being constructed.
Weiss said the local VFW post each year nominates a teacher who goes above and beyond in showing patriotism and support to local veterans. He said Larson’s Veterans Day program also may encourage students to join the military after high school, but more importantly, instills in them an appreciation for veterans.
“It’s nice to not only see a very supportive teacher, but the school system backing her up,” Weiss said. “It would be nice to see more teachers and schools do this. We’d like to see more of it.”
Larson said being recognized for honoring vets and trying to instill that appreciation in students was “pretty humbling.”
“As a teacher, your job is to teach skills, but also to be a good role model and teach life skills,” she said. “That’s definitely a good life skill.”
Larson also received a statewide award from the American Legion in 2006.
Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris called Larson an “amazing music educator.”
“She works hard on integrating music with our overall educational plan — working with others both in our school and with other music teachers in the district,” she said. “I just love her influence with kids, parents and certainly our staff.”