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October 23, 2001

Two Alumni Named Wisconsin Teacher of the Year
By Khrysten Darm
UW-RF News Bureau

Two UW-River Falls alumni have been named Wisconsin Teacher of the Year for 2001-2002.They received their awards from the Department of Public Instruction at the annual convention of the Wisconsin Education Association Council held in Milwaukee, Oct. 25-26.

Tarin Costello from Fond du Lac, who earned her bachelorıs degree in agricultural education in 1988, received Wisconsinıs High School award, and Paul Larson from Appleton, who earned his bachelorıs degree in agricultural education in 1987, received Wisconsinıs Middle School award.

The two were among 86 Kohl Teacher Fellowship recipients last year, and were chosen for the Teacher of the Year honor for their instructional leadership and ability to inspire and motivate students.

Costello began her teaching career as an agriculture teacher at New Holstein High School in New Holstein in 1989, and is an agriculture teacher at Waupun High School in Waupun. She says she designs classroom projects that push her students to hypothesize, experiment, and research. "This type of learning motivates students to dig deeper into subject areas," she said. "In my classes there are no losers, only constant learning trials."

Costello is active in the community programs "Project Pals," "Halloween Safety," and the "Fond du Lac County Farm Safety Day Camp." On Farm Safety Day, more than 350 children, ages kindergarten through eighth grade, spend one day working through 10 different safety sessions taught by safety professionals. Said Costello, "The time required to put on Farm Safety Day is worth every minute, because we are saving lives."

Said Richard Aide, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Vocational Agriculture Instructors, "Tarinıs program is without a doubt one of the most progressive and up-to-date programs in the state and throughout the nation."

Larson began his career at Freedom High School in Freedom in 1987, and moved to Freedom Middle School in 1998 where, he says, his love for children and teaching helped him to connect positively with students, both in and out of the classroom. He uses hands-on and discovery techniques when he cannot answer studentsı questions. "When this learning opportunity occurs, we research collaboratively for answers using books, phones, or the Internet," he said.

Larson is active in the local and national Future Farmers of America organizations. Through his leadership and supervision, more than 100 students have received FFA degrees and proficiency awards. He supports community service in his students through school and FFA projects as well as through his own activities. A former student, commenting on Larsonıs caring nature, said, "He would listen when we needed to talk and would talk when we needed to listen."

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster said of the awards, "There are some who want to tear our teachers down. I say it is time to treat teachers like the professionals they are and recognize the important contributions they make in providing every child in Wisconsin a quality education."

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