Larry Olsen was nominated by his colleague, Amy Barney.
Mr. Olsen has been employed by Lake Havasu Unified School District for over 30 years. During that time, he has served as a math teacher, academic coach, athletic coach, and assistant principal before finally returning to teaching. Mr. Olsen has been crucial to the success of many of the students and staff at Lake Havasu High School (LHHS). He coordinates the Math Olympics program, working with the local community college (MCC), Arizona State University at Havasu, and other area schools to give students who excel in math an opportunity to compete. He has fostered a relationship with the math lead at ASU Havasu to create a network between LHHS and a local college. Mr. Olsen has used this relationship to provide free professional development to all of the math teachers at LHHS. Additionally, he is the lead teacher for ASU's summer math camp, providing enrichment opportunities for students in grades 3-9 with additional volunteer opportunities for high school students.
When Mr. Olsen noticed students struggling with the academic and social transition to high school, he brought the SMART Math program to LHHS. This program provides incoming freshmen with the opportunity to spend three weeks on the high school campus learning essential math skills and inside tips for success in high school. This program has grown to require four teachers. Nearly 1/4 of all freshmen voluntarily enroll in this program.
Another way Mr. Olsen has impacted Lake Havasu City is through his mentorship. Officially and unofficially, he has proven to be an incredible mentor.
"When I transferred to LHHS from a local elementary school, I was not provided with a mentor since I was already an experienced teacher," said Barney. "However, Mr. Olsen stepped up and showed me the ins and outs of LHHS. He assured me that I had the necessary skills to make sure my students would be successful. I have witnessed him do this repeatedly. Recently, I have transitioned into the role of assistant principal...my go-to mentor is still Mr. Olsen. He is always available to discuss best practices and how to balance the needs of students with the needs of staff."
Mr. Olsen is highly respected by his students. He offers impeccable educational opportunities as well as personal advice. Mr. Olsen is always looking for ways to help struggling students. He works with families and other teachers to meet students' needs and find ways to support them. Mr. Olsen has also helped coach students into the right college or career for them. He has helped students get into some of the best colleges in America, including the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy.
"Each year at Lake Havasu High School, we honor the top 20 students by inviting them to a formal dinner where they get the opportunity to dine with their most influential teacher," said Barney. "Mr. Olsen is a perpetual favorite and is often chosen by multiple students. This is indicative of his far-reaching impact. Lake Havasu High School would not be where it is today without Mr. Olsen's leadership and service."