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LHHS Teacher earns Teacher of the Year honors from AZ VFW

 LHHS math teacher, Larry Olsen
LHHS math teacher, Larry Olsen

Larry Olsen, a 28-year veteran of Lake Havasu Unified School District, has been honored as this year’s Arizona Veterans of Foreign Wars high school teacher of the year.

“This makes me feel appreciated, but I definitely don’t teach for awards,” Olsen said. “You also don’t teach for the money. For me, it’s about the personal satisfaction that kids are learning. That’s the reward.”

Born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, in high school Olsen’s career aspiration was to be a professional basketball player, but he soon realized that was a “pipedream.”

In college, Olsen started as a petroleum engineer major with the desire to work in Wyoming’s oil fields. However, at the urging of his brother-in-law who worked for Chevron Oil, he soon found his true calling in life.

“My brother-in-law convinced me that the oil field was going to dry up, so I switched majors,” Olsen said. “The question was, what to do with all of my math credits?”

Inspiration hit, it was to become a math teacher.

Olsen approach at teaching is making personal connections.

“If the students don’t appreciate who you are then they will care less about the math,” he said. “Some kids are driven to go to college and they will do fine no matter who their teacher is, but it’s about reaching out, asking where they work or what sports do they play.”

Olsen said as part of his teaching philosophy he attends as many sporting events, school plays and choir performances as possible.

“If the kids see that I care, I feel they will give more effort in class,” he said. “It’s making the personal connection that drives me.”

Two years away from retirement age, Olsen doesn’t see that in the cards.

“In 10 years I’m sure I’ll be right here,” he added. “Hopefully, I’m still relating to high school kids, because this is fun. I actually love coming to work.”

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