Longtime educator goes back to school.
After an injury left 60-year-old Michele Larson unable to teach children, a job she loved, she found herself with two choices: Give up or find another way.
Today, Larson is approaching the end of a 55-credit program to obtain her Administrative Assistant certificate at Highline College. And she looks forward to one day being able to work at a new preschool/kindergarten program in Sumner, Washington.
“Highline College has given me education, skills and training to open more doors in this global competitive market,” the Orting resident said. Prior to her disability, Larson worked as an elementary education teacher in the Highline School District. She’s also worked in the Federal Way and Puyallup school districts.
Despite having a bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University, an English Language Learners endorsement from Heritage University, a Professional Certificate from Seattle Pacific University and a Vocational Technical Certificate from Boise State University, she said she will continue to take classes at Highline after she graduates so she can keep expanding her education.
Since she’s been at Highline, Larson has managed to win the BSTEC Award for Excellence in MS Outlook and MS Excel, has maintained quarterly Honor Roll status and is part of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“College life continues to evolve into an amazing community of people who come from all backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles,” she said. “To have academic success, you need to be committed, disciplined and patient.”
Going back to being a student hasn’t been entirely easy for Larson, however.
As a wife, mother to four adult children and grandmother to three grandchildren, life is sometimes just that — life.
“Some of the struggles I had to overcome were accepting my new role as a returning student and balancing my personal life with the demands of classes and homework,” she said.
But Larson hasn’t done it all on her own. She credits her instructors with providing her support, acceptance and “excellent instruction.” Specifically, she is grateful to adviser Marcia Welch for above and beyond guidance and support.
Although Larson will be done with her program after winter 2019, she plans to graduate with her peers in June. And while the path she’s on wasn’t her first choice, she’s found another way.