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‘She devoted her life to teaching’

Tricia Larson was beloved MNW kindergarten teacher; she died on Tuesday

-Submitted photo
Tricia Larson, the red crayon, poses for a picture with staff at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary School.

Tricia Larson earned the love and respect of students, staff and families alike during her 30-plus years of teaching kindergarten at Manson Northwest Webster Elementary School.

She did that by taking an interest in every student or person she came across. She made learning fun and went out of her way to reach all of her students.

Larson, who wore long brown hair, wanted everyone to be at their best. This is all according to those who knew her.

“Dedication to family, friends and occupation,” said Eric, her husband of 33 years. “Those were her top three things in life.”

Tricia Larson passed away on Tuesday at her home in Fort Dodge. She was 55.

-Submitted photo
Kindergarten students react to a demonstration from Tricia Larson.

“She devoted her life to teaching,” said Bret Larson, MNW elementary principal. “When you think of Tricia you think of what a good teacher looks like. She was 100 percent about students all the time. Any conversations we had, she wanted her student to be the best they could be and knew how to help them. Not just academically, but helping them mature.”

Bret Larson worked with Tricia Larson for seven years at the elementary school. The last three years he has served as principal.

Having a teacher like Tricia Larson at a young age can be very impactful for a student’s long-term view of school as students often remember their early experiences in a classroom environment, according to Bret Larson.

“We have students who have grown up to love school because their first experience with school was with her as a teacher,” Bret Larson said.

She was very engaging and knew how to get on the students’ level, according to Bret Larson.

“Every year, how they (kindergarten) would celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday,” he recalled. “Mrs. Larson would dress up as Thing One and her associate would dress as Thing Two. She had a really good time teaching academics but also being creative and being one of the kids with them.

“Being in her room that always stood out to me. Kids were always having a good time and she was always having a good time.”

And as much as she loved teaching, she cared for her family just as much.

“A lot of times for her birthday or Christmas, we would ask what she wanted,” her son Zach recalled. “All she would ask is for us to be there.”

Family vacations with her were memorable, Eric Larson said.

“Family was always first with her,” he said.

The couple first went out on a date in 1982 in Clare.

“We actually met in high school in the 11th grade,” he said.

Her son AJ recalls that once a student was in her class, they became like family, too.

“Extreme dedication to her job,” he said. “She would talk about her kids as her kids, even when they grew up — ‘Oh I taught him, he was one of my kids’ –she treated them like family, everyone in her classroom.”

Daughter Kenzie added, “She always did everything in her power — she wanted to make sure they were set up for the best success. Try to figure out a plan to help that child succeed. She was everyone’s biggest fan.”

AJ said his mother always shared in the enthusiasm when someone was excited about something.

“Every time you would talk to her and tell her something, she would be more happy about it than you were,” he recalled. “She would be 10 times more excited.”

Pam Bleam, the pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade counselor at MNW, taught with Tricia Larson for over 30 years.

“The parents, the students, the staff — everybody,” Bleam said. “Everybody loved her. She was always willing to stay after school and do what she needed to do to help tutor kids and give them a really good experience in school.”

Her focus on the students never wavered.

“She got along with everyone, but she still did her own thing, in a positive way,” Bleam said. “She didn’t get into any disputes with anyone but kept her focus on what was best for the students. And I know some teachers are liked, but she was loved.”

Tricia Larson was Jodi Jacobsen’s first friend when she began teaching at MNW 25 years ago.

“She had already been there seven years,” Jacobsen said. “She was my first friend I met as a co-worker. As the years went on we became close family friends. She taught all of my kids in kindergarten and I’ve taught all of hers in fourth-grade.”

Jacobsen could relate to Larson.

“She was so welcoming when I started working in the distict and then having children the same age,” Jacobsen said. “Our children are all friends. We would take them boating or swimming.”

Jacobsen said Larson’s work will live on through her family and students.

“It’s heartreaking and she will be so missed, but she has left a legacy because she has touched a lot of children’s lives and I’m sure they all remember their kindergarten teacher, Tricia Larson.”

MNW statement

The Manson Northwest Webster Community School District issued this statement to parents in light of Tricia Larson’s death:

During this time, children may be feeling very confused and saddened, and they may have questions about death. You can help them express their concerns and feelings. For younger students, this can be done through drawing pictures, reading books, and talking about their emotions. For older children, it may mean simply taking the time to talk, once they are ready.

Please contact us if anyone in your family needs additional assistance, and we can help arrange counseling over the phone or through video chat.

Please email: Mr. Daggett at jdaggett@mnwcougars.com or Mr. Larson at blarson@mnwcougars.com.

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