Attributions: 
Lana Hiskey

Alyssa Larsen Surprised by the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education

Last week on April 30, 2015, Karen Huntsman surprised special education teacher, Alyssa Larsen, at Spanish Fork High School, with the highest teaching award bestowed in the state of Utah, the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education. The award’s mission is to recognize, inspire and reward the best teachers, school administrators, and volunteers in Utah for continually seeking ways to improve the quality of education in our public school system.

The Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education highlights the achievements of some of Utah’s best educators and expresses gratitude for their devotion to Utah’s children.

Spanish Fork High School has an enrollment of 1,240 students. Alyssa currently has 13 special needs students and 52 peer tutors in her classroom, although her influence reaches far beyond that. She also coaches the Spanish Fork girls’ basketball team. 

“Getting this award, was truly shocking, and I still haven't quite realized that it is real. I know some of the educators who have won the Huntsman award.  To be considered among them in this group of Huntsman winners, I truly feel honored. We never think when we are working in this field that a reward like this will come our way. I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with the amazing students I do every day, which made this award possible in my life. It's not every day we can find someone who loves every aspect of their job; but I really do. The students, my coworkers, administration and parents, I love them all. I cannot thank them enough for playing a role in me being honored with this award,” said Larsen.

Alyssa is a dedicated advocate for her students, a mentor to her athletes, and a friend to all the faculty and staff. 

Principal Dave McKee said, “Soon after hiring Alyssa, I realized that she is an extraordinary individual in wonderful ways. Alyssa has the ability to see students in the school that could benefit from her influence. She gives individuals a sense of worth and importance and encourages them through trials. Alyssa has shown her love and support to many that truly needed exactly that in life.”

The nominators wrote, “It is without a doubt that Alyssa is deserving. Her passion in doing what she does has made many want to follow in her footsteps. Her magnetic personality and genuine concern for individuals in her life sets her apart from her peers. Alyssa is a teacher, advocate, confidant, cheerleader, mentor, coach, shoulder to cry on, and a high five waiting to celebrate even the smallest milestone. She has watched her students soar and watched them fall. She attends weddings, mission farewells, and funerals of students and former students. Alyssa gives her all every single day.”

In this 23rd year of the Awards program, Larsen is one of 11 top educators who was selected because she is truly a hero in the lives of people who have the pleasure of crossing her path. 
The award recognizes that it’s especially important to applaud those who weather the storm and maintain their steadfast commitment to preparing our children for successful futures.

J. Lynn Jones, Nebo School District Special Education Director has worked closely with Alyssa throughout her teaching career, states, “Our district Special Needs Beauty Pageant began with Alyssa’s support. This event began when one of her peer tutors was pursuing ways to support the special needs girls as a platform for her successful pursuit of the Miss Spanish Fork title. This pageant will be held for the sixth consecutive year this spring. All girls are winners with crowns and sashes.”

Ms. Larsen and the other award recipients will each receive a $10,000 cash award and will be honored at a banquet at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Ms. Larsen’s nominators include: Dusty Averett, Courtney Packard, Kippy Bishop, Dave McKee, Margaret Millstead, J. Lynn Jones, Shelly Bills, and Julie Provstgaard.