YODER – On Monday, May 3, Shelby Larkin was awarded the Goshen County Education Association (GCEA) Support Person of the Year during an assembly at Southeast Elementary School.
Larkin works primarily with special needs students, but she also assists teachers in their classrooms. She predominantly does one-on-one work with students who are struggling or need extra assistance that they can’t get from the classroom.
“Right now, because we don’t have a particular student for me to work with, I help students who are struggling in an area or students that need an extra person beside them to encourage them,” Larkin said.
Larkin has worked at Southeast Elementary School for the past three years after moving here from Southwestern Missouri. She previously worked with special needs students for 13 years while she was in Missouri.
Her family moved here in July of 2018 after her husband decided he wanted to stop working for Pepsi and get a job working on a ranch. They came out here to visit the area on Memorial Day weekend in 2018 and moved here two months later.
Before beginning her career in education, Larkin worked in the medical field. She always knew that education is where she wanted to be after moving to Wyoming.
“I always knew education in some form or fashion is where I wanted to be,” Larkin said. “Special education has always been an ambition of mine to be a part of.”
With the kindergarten being the largest at Southeast Elementary School currently, Larkin spends most of her time assisting those teachers. She mainly focuses on kindergarten through fourth grade but has worked with high schoolers in the past.
“Before we moved here, I worked with sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school,” Larkin said. “They were special needs students and we focused on technical education because we knew they wouldn’t go to college necessarily, so we geared them towards a job they could get after high school.”
When Larkin arrived at the gymnasium for the ceremony, she had no idea she was going to be honored with the award.
She was greeted by a large round of applause from all of the elementary school students and even her parents, husband and children were there to celebrate her accomplishment.
“This award means the world to me,” Larkin said. “I didn’t have a clue, they’re very good at keeping secrets. It’s special, and it means the world to be recognized for something that you enjoy. I love being here, I love being with the teachers and the kids.”
During the presentation, coworkers stood up and spoke about the impact Larkin has had on their classrooms and how she is willing to drop anything she is doing to help them out with anything they might need.
“I’ve had her cut stuff until her fingers bleed,” said fellow teacher Jocelyn Leithead. “I just always appreciate everything that she’s done. She’s always calm, cool and collected with the students.”
After receiving the award, Larkin spoke about how much she enjoys working at Southeast Elementary School and how she enjoys being a part of the family atmosphere that surrounds the school.
“I always tell all of them ‘It takes a village and I’m happy to be a part of their village,’” Larkin said. “It’s home and I love it and I’m honored.”