Since the tragic passing of science teacher Ms. Nicole Larsen, the Oswego High School community has come together to recognize her accomplishments and the legacy she left behind. Ms. Larsen will forever be remembered as a compassionate, caring teacher who brought out the best in everyone around her.
We interviewed several students and faculty members who were impacted by Ms. Larsen. By talking to them, we were able to see the relationships that Ms. Larsen built at Oswego High School, both as a colleague and as a mentor.
Mrs. Patti Marcinko
Mrs. Patti Marcinko, director of Student Services, stated that people “consistently referred to [Ms. Larsen] as a bright spot.” Ms. Larsen’s positive energy was one of the things that stood out the most about her personality.
Mrs. Marcinko went on to share that for Ms. Larsen, her job “was beyond teaching anatomy and physiology, or beyond teaching Med Topics—it was really teaching students…everything from science-related topics to life experiences.” These life lessons are what made Ms. Larsen more than a science teacher to many that knew her.
In terms of Ms. Larsen’s role in the science department, Mrs. Marcinko saw her as a leader.
“[Ms. Larsen was] that go-to person, that mom. big sister in the department, where she was just respected, loved,” Mrs. Marcinko said. “the heart of that department, and really the heart of the school.”
Mrs. Pam Phelps
We also talked to science teacher Mrs. Pam Phelps, Ms. Larsen’s colleague and also her supervisor during student teaching. Mrs. Phelps described Ms. Larsen as “amazing” and “a natural” when it came to teaching. Many share this opinion, as Ms. Larsen connected with her students quickly and helped them learn in the ways that best suited them.
Mrs. Phelps thought that Ms. Larsen took a more personal approach to teaching.
“If a student tells me, ‘My boyfriend broke up with me,’ I’d be like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry— I think you’ll feel better if you take this quiz,’” Mrs. Phelps said.“Ms. Larsen would be like, ‘Let’s talk about it. Let’s find ways to make you feel better.’ So I think that was her greatest gift.”
Mrs. Phelps stated that the Science Department “looked up to [Ms. Larsen] almost like a mom and a friend, and she was always there to give them support and guidance.”
Ms. Amy Oslos
Even those who did not know Ms. Larsen very well were impacted by her. Although English teacher Ms. Amy Oslos was not very close with Ms. Larsen, she had heard of many positive things that Ms. Larsen had done for her students.
“ students who were having trouble in their peer group, [Ms. Larsen] would give them an opportunity to get outside [of that situation],” Ms. Oslos said. “ She would sit down with them and let them eat with her every day.”
Ms. Oslos also shared that Ms. Larsen “was somebody who was very well-liked throughout every department,” and students “never had anything bad to say about her.”
Senior Alejandro Morales had Ms. Larsen for Honors Anatomy and Physiology this year. He had nothing but wonderful things to say about his teacher, describing her as “very inspirational.”
“She really cared about her students she was teaching,” Morales said.
Despite only having Ms. Larsen for two weeks, Morales “felt pretty close with her.” He went on to talk about how he would spend time with her discussing his brother that had her years ago, and how much progress his brother has made. Morales would also tell her about his future plans.
Senior Blake Tennent, who had Ms. Larsen last year, shared a strong bond with the teacher. Tennent saw her as “really lively” and “always happy.”
“[Ms. Larsen] would always be able to talk to me after school about my problems, and really whatever I felt I needed to talk about,” Tennent said. When Ms. Larsen’s death was announced, Tennent could hardly believe it.
For many, Ms. Larsen was a role model. Some even looked up to her as a mom figure. Senior Mackenzi Murphy, one of Ms. Larsen’s Honors Anatomy and Physiology students from last year, felt this connection with her. Just about everyone knew how close the two were. Murphy even still keeps a note from Ms. Larsen with her.
“I look at every single day, and it makes me motivated to go through my day,” Murphy said.
Murphy expressed her hopes “that her Med Topics program that she was so proud of goes the way she wanted it to go” and that “they find another junior class sponsor who was as great as her.” She hopes that that her memory lives on through all of us. acknowledging the fact that
“There’s just not another Ms. Larsen,” Murphy said.
If you would be interested in donating to Mrs. Larsen’s family, a GoFundMe has been set up here.
Additional reporting by Riah Trevino.