McKinley special education teacher presented with Golden Apple award

Coworkers said they appreciate Erik Larson’s ability to connect with students.
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 11:40 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Our latest Golden Apple award goes to a special education teacher at McKinley Charter School whose goal is to provide an open door for students into the world of education.

McKinley Charter School Principal Pete Riley presented Erik Larson with the award, noting Larson for quickly making a positive impact with children who may not have been successful in other educational settings. Larson isn’t new to the district or to education, but coworkers appreciate his dedication to his profession.

“”He’s not much older than they are, because he’s like 31,” Nevada Franz, McKinley Charter School special education Teacher, said. “But he’ll start talking about a rap song and just get their attention... it just flows so easily for him to get into contact with the kids.

“They might come in here with a chunk on their shoulder... give him 20 minutes and he’s good,” Franz said. “And that’s a gift.”

Larson said his goal in education is to build relationships with his students.

“A lot of our students and their families have had some negative experiences in the past in public education, whether that be here in our community and in our state or across the nation,” Larson said. “Those bad experiences, you can definitely tell have impacted their outlook on what has been public education, and what we try to do is revamp everything.

“Try to put the kid first and look at it from a holistic angle, not just hounding them about attendance and grades but making sure they are able to set some goals for themselves and be able to reach those goals.”

Larson and the school will split $1,000 in grant funding from the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation.

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