BROOKINGS – The Brookings School District and the Brookings Education Association honored their 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year at their staff recognition event at Brookings High School Wednesday night. The honorees from each school were, from left, Taylor Johnson, Mickelson Middle School; Jon Bakken, Camelot Intermediate School; Jodee Hadley, Dakota Prairie Elementary; Lisa Shepardson, Medary Elementary; Mary Steinmetz, Brookings High School; and Tina Birgen, Hillcrest Elementary. Out of the group of six, Hadley was then named the Brookings School District Teacher of the Year, and she now moves on to regional competition.
Patricia M. Larson Award
Kate Mogard, a kindergarten teacher at Dakota Prairie, was honored with the Patricia M. Larson Award for Excellence in Elementary Education. The Patricia M. Larson Fund provides an annual award of $2,000 to a Brookings K-5 elementary teacher and a $2,000 award to the school where the award winner is employed. This award is intended as a sign of appreciation and encouragement for ongoing teaching and learning. The use of funds is unrestricted.
The award is an ongoing tribute in memory of Larson, who dedicated her life to children’s education through her activities as a parent, educator, volunteer and philanthropist. After earning her degree in elementary education from the College of St. Benedict, Larson began her teaching career in Austin, Minn. In 1964, Larson and her husband, Dale, moved to Brookings, where she spent two years teaching at Hillcrest Elementary.
Among her many volunteer activities, Larson was a member of PEO and taught catechism at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. She was also president of the Larson Foundation, which founded the Children’s Museum of South Dakota and has granted funding to numerous statewide projects focusing on childhood learning.