When speaking to someone who is very passionate about their work, you can feel it without them having to say much. I felt hers in a moment of tearful silence.

Often, during the Teacher of the Week segment on The Steve Shannon Show, I will ask what moment in their lives made them want to become a teacher. I've heard great stories about the teachers that left an impression on them at an early age that ultimately inspired the choice.

After this particular phone conversation with an educator who has been in the profession for 34 years, I now see that the question I should be asking is,

What is it that keeps you in the profession?

I never actually asked that specific question, but I most definitely got an incredible 'answer' to it, and I'll get to it in just a moment. First, let me congratulate her.

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97ZOK's Teacher of the Week - Christie Larson from Carlson Elementary School in Rockford.

Christie was nominated for this honor by one of her students, Mari McCrimmon (who happens to be another example of what has kept Christie in the classroom for so long).

TOTW-Christie Larson from Carlson Elementary in Rockford
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Here is Mari's nomination letter:

Ms. Larson is very nice, she never complains and is always happy to be at school and to see us. My reading, writing, and math have all improved because of her. She celebrates with us and is so proud of us when we make gains. When I don't understand something, she doesn't give up. Like when I didn't know how to round or estimate she kept answering my questions and trying new examples with me until I understood. She is always thinking of ways to make us feel special, she knows things about us like that I like to craft and she found me stickers as a prize that she thought I would like for crafting as a reward for my hard work.

After reading this letter to Christie, there was only tearful silence. Then, she answered the question I mentioned above, what is it that keeps you in the profession?

TOTW-Christie Larson from Carlson Elementary in Rockford
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When you see the growth and when you know that they notice and appreciate it. It's when they get invested, that's when the growth happens. So much of what I've done, I realize isn't the academics, it's the relationship. You have to get there (a good relationship) with kids before they're going to open up enough for you to help them with their academics. They have to know that you're invested in them or they tune you out. It's kids like Mari that keep us going.

As 97ZOK's Teacher Of The WeekChristie Larson was surprised with a beautiful floral arrangement from Broadway Florist and a delicious cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Click HERE to nominate your favorite teacher.

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