In 20 years of teaching family and consumer sciences, Emily Larson has built a powerhouse program at Amery High School in northwestern Wisconsin.
Larson created a Leadership Academy and directed an overhaul of the school’s family and consumer sciences kitchen, among other achievements, to help students “become leaders in the classroom and the community.”
In March, the 2003 University of Wisconsin-Stout alum was named the 2023 Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. She is one of four School of Education alum, whose programs are based in Heritage Hall, to be recognized recently.
“I was honored, delighted and surprised because I knew I was against some incredible FCS teachers. Wisconsin has some of the best family and consumer sciences teachers in the nation, and I am fortunate to collaborate with them because it makes us better teachers for our students,” said Larson, who accepted the award at the WAFCS conference in Onalaska.
The other School of Education alum recently recognized are:
- Kendra Haessly, 1988 graduate and a teacher at Grant Elementary in Marshfield, received a regional Crystal Apple award for the second time.
- Jamie Nord, who is executive director of the St. Croix River Education District, received the Outstanding Central Office Leader award from the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. She received a Master of Science in education in 2006 and an Education Specialist degree in school psychology in 2008.
- Jonathan Szymanski, 2022 graduate and a counselor at Manz Elementary in Eau Claire, received a Golden Apple regional honor.
UW-Stout has seven undergraduate and three graduate programs in teacher education. Students in the programs will benefit from the renovation of Heritage Hall, which received priority approval from the UW System Board of Regents, is ranked No. 1 in the Chippewa Valley and No. 3 for major academic building renovation projects.
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Renovation, supporting Wisconsin’s workforce needs including teacher shortages, is slated to begin in 2026.
“UW-Stout’s alumni are well-prepared as educators, and these award recognitions demonstrate the impact the recipients are making in their schools and communities. I am so proud of these alumni for their accomplishments and for the examples they set for others,” said Deanna Schultz, School of Education director.
The employment rate for graduates from the programs in fall 2021 and spring 2022 was nearly 100%, according to UW-Stout’s new First Destination report.
UW-Stout was foundation for career
A native of Merrillan in Jackson County, Larson said UW-Stout “was excellent at helping me prepare for my family and consumer sciences education degree. UW-Stout instructors go above and beyond to help and encourage.”
She cited late Professor Carolyn Barnhart. “She was not only an outstanding instructor, but she also mentored me until her passing in 2020. She would send me encouraging quotes and visited me when I had my classroom remodeled. She brought me a UW-Stout banner to hang in my classroom,” Larson said.
“This award is not only mine but also Dr. Carolyn Barnhart's. I am where I am today because of her mentorship and guidance throughout my FCS career.”
Larson returns to UW-Stout annually to speak at a family and consumer sciences conference and has been a guest speaker in classes.
Larson supports students, community
The WAFCS award is one of Larson’s many honors. In 2018, she was Wisconsin VFW Teacher of the Year, is in the Who’s Who Among American Teachers and has received a National Presidential service award. She also was chosen to create lesson plans for the National Pork Association.
She also serves on the WACFS board and was president in 2022.
One of her major achievements was creating the FCS Leadership Academy in 2015 at Amery. Students explore career pathways, participate in service-learning, develop leadership skills and take dual credit classes through two colleges. They can become certified and earn certificates in the areas of leadership, health, food and child care.
Leadership activities include youth apprenticeship, work-based learning, running a school-based enterprise, online school store and catering business. One business enterprise is roasting coffee beans — all opportunities aligned with the polytechnic, applied learning identity of UW-Stout.
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She is the only family and consumer sciences teacher in the high school.
“I love teaching my students life skills, like being a good parent or preparing healthy, nutritious meals,” she said, citing 21 classes she has taught including subjects such as child development, foods and nutrition, food science, architecture and design, catering, health and leadership.
As part of her teaching and outreach, Larson directs the high school chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, which promotes personal growth and leadership development. About 25% of students take part, and the chapter consistently ranks in the top three in the state for membership. Students can take part in an FCCLA event each year at UW-Stout.
Larson, who has three children, is licensed to teach health education and earned a minor in health at UW-Stout. She is a certified CPR instructor and has been active as a volunteer in Amery and Polk counties. Her husband, Neil, also is a UW-Stout graduate and teaches technology education in the Clear Lake school district.
Larson also teaches summer classes at Clear Lake Elementary.