She greets her students with hugs and a warm smile. Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious and she motivates children to want to come to school every day.
Those are just some of the complimentary words a parent chose when writing about Margo Young in a nomination letter for the prestigious Lakin Foundation outstanding teaching award, an honor the Northeast Elementary first-grade teacher received at the conclusion of the 2013-14 school year.
Young was one of two runners-up for the Charles E. Lakin Outstanding Teacher Award. Green Hills Area Education Agency Executive Director Lane Plugge made an unannounced visit to Young’s classroom during the last week of school to present the $2,500 award.
“It’s so humbling. I was totally surprised,” Young said. “You don’t expect to be recognized for doing what you love.”
Young, a native of the Black Hills region of South Dakota, has been an elementary teacher in Glenwood since 1977. Only one other teacher in the district, Janis Moore, has taught in Glenwood for a longer period of time. Young said having the opportunity to work with young children and help shape their lives on a daily basis is something she never takes for granted.
“(Being a teacher) was God’s calling and fortunately I was smart enough to answer the call,” Young said. “The greatest satisfaction I get is helping children learn and seeing what they can become, and not just academically. I’m blessed to be a part of their lives.”
Young said the recognition from the Lakin Foundation is particularly meaningful because the criteria for the award mirrors her teaching philosophy.
“It says they want to recognize teachers who entice kids to come to school each day and see teaching as a calling rather than a job,” Young said. “I really didn’t know those were the reasons for the award, but that’s what I believe in.”
Northeast Elementary principal Joan Crowl said teaching is a passion for Young.
“She makes every class of children feel like they are the most important students she has ever taught,” Crowl said. “Margo makes a personal connection with every single child and through the years that has been many children throughout the community that she has touched.”
Young said she’s eagerly looking forward to beginning her 38th year of teaching next month.
“There are trying days, but it’s never bad enough to get me thinking about trying something else,” she said.
Young is the third Glenwood teacher to be recognized by the Lakin Foundation. Kay Fast and Elizabeth Jensen were previous award winners from the district.