2016 Teacher of the Year
● By Hood Magazine
By Jessica Brovold
At Hartford Elementary School, Mrs. Holloway had the chance to spend two years with some of her students. An opportunity that would take her family to Texas didn’t pan out and as you’re about to read, for one student, Mrs. Holloway’s change of plans may have happened for a reason.
“I actually resigned and another teacher took my kindergarten position so I asked my principal if I could have a job and I ended up in first grade,” said Mrs. Holloway. “It was actually a blessing because I got eight kids that I had in kindergarten.”
One of those kids is Karson. He was diagnosed with dyslexia, but not until his first grade year in Mrs. Holloway’s classroom.
“To be honest, if she wasn’t his teacher for the second year in a row, if he had a different teacher in first grade, I fear that we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Karson’s dad, B.J. Olson.
Mrs. Holloway noticed some things with Karson in kindergarten, but when they carried over to first grade, she knew something needed to be done.
“We saw some warning signs, so we got him tested and he was diagnosed as dyslexic,” said Mrs. Holloway.
While she went to the experts for the diagnosis, she took the rest upon herself. “I started researching everything I could to help him,” said Mrs. Holloway. “I talked with a lot of people to do everything I could to help him.”
Karson is now in second grade, but still spends plenty of time with his old teacher. She tutors him outside of regular school hours, even during the summer.
“I am blown away that she had this vested interest in understanding how important it is for my
son to read at a young age so he doesn’t struggle later in life,” said B.J. “We’ve seen some amazing improvements in the last year, it’s incredible.“
And while Karson learns so much from Mrs. Holloway, she’s gained some life-long lessons as well.
“He works so hard, it makes me want to work harder with
him,” said Mrs. Holloway. “Learning all the ins and outs of dyslexia and how it
affects each child differently, there are so many different forms of it. He has
taught me a ton this year. I feel like I’ll be able to use this forever.”
As for the 2016 Teacher of the Year nomination, the Olson’s want Mrs. Holloway to know she’s appreciated.
“I think she should be recognized for the extra effort she put forth when she didn’t need to,” said Mindy Olson, Karson’s mom.
“It’s humbling and makes me cry,” said Mrs. Holloway. “You do what is in your heart. You do it because you love the kids. You want them to succeed. It’s a blessing when the family sees that. “
For Karson, he’ll continue having fun with Mrs. Holloway on their football rivalry and he’ll continue smiling knowing she’s making an impact on his life.
“She’s my favorite teacher because she’s helped me learn how
to read and now reading is easier for me and I kinda like it,” said Karson. “I
like to read because it’s interesting, I like reading about animals and Mrs.
Holloway also helps me pick out books.”
So while this story continues, Mrs. Holloway will always leave her bookmark on this chapter of Karson’s life.
“When you think back on your favorite teacher, they’re friendly, or a coach,” said B.J. “But I think Karson, even when he’s in college, he’ll still remember Mrs. Holloway for what she was able to do."
Sponsored by University of South Dakota School of Education