Clara Larsen has now turned in the grades for her reading students and left her classroom in order, thus completing another schoolyear in a 50-year teaching career in Utah schools.
But she'll be back in her Snow College classroom in a couple of months to greet her fall quarter students - nine in each of her two developmental-reading classes and 15 in the speed-reading class.Her developmental reading students are usually young adults who need help with their study skills. Her speed-reading class has students who are often superior and who have a great deal of written material to cover.
"The advantage of the small classes," Larsen said, "is the individualized help I can give them." Her classroom has five computers and several tachistoscopes - modern aids in the teaching of reading.
But she also uses some old-fashioned teaching methods, too - methods she used in her first-grade class in 1928 at Centerfield Elementary School.
"I still have my students read an assignment, then have them write a paragraph and check it for comprehension. I give them a writing assignment every day."
Clara Larsen - Clara Allred then - graduated from Snow College in 1928 with a two-year diploma. Her first teaching job - with a salary of $600 a year - was at the Centerfield school.
The next year she was employed as a first-grade teacher - her salary, $1,000 a year - at the Highland Boy Elementary in the Jordan District. She was at Highland Boy two more years and then at Draper one year.
Then came the first of several interruptions in her 50-year teaching career. She married Reed Larsen, her high school sweetheart, who was an Ephraim barber and farmer, and returned to Ephraim to live.
There was a ruling, then, Larsen said, that married women couldn't teach, and she was out of the classroom for five years. But the ruling was changed, and she found herself again teaching first grade, this time at the Ephraim Elementary School.
In the meantime, Larsen had been taking University of Utah summer and night classes and had received her bachelor's degree.
In 1950, the Larsens, childless till then, adopted Ronde and Liane when each was 3 days old. The infants, who were unrelated, were six months apart in age.
Another five-year interruption in Larsen's teaching career followed. Then, with the children in kindergarten, Larsen was back at Ephraim Elementary, this time in the second grade.
When she reached the mandatory retirement age, Lar-sen officially retired in spring of 1973. But she was called back in the fall to fill in for a teacher who decided to leave the profession. For another five years Larsen continued to fill in for teachers who got married, suffered prolonged illness or who otherwise created a vacancy.
"I kept getting drafted," Larsen said. Her present draft call came from Snow College in 1979. She was asked to teach three classes, four times a week, in the school's special reading program.
"I've been a lifelong teacher," Larsen says. That's not all - she's also been a wife, a mother, a four-times grandmother, a vocalist in frequent demand and a church and civic worker. Several years ago she was awarded the Christmas Candle, symbolic of humanitarian service.
"Clara has been an inspired teacher," one of her colleagues said.
"I've loved teaching" Larsen said, "I've always wanted to do more than teach skills. I've wanted to stimulate the thinking of my students - to open the way for them.
"As a young woman, I wanted to have a big family. In my way, through 50 years of teaching that wish has come true for me." Several years ago Reed died, and when Larsen returns to her classroom this fall another addition to her "big family" will help compensate for his absence.
"Every night about the dinner table I told him about my students," Larsen said. "Sometimes we laughed, and sometimes I cried over some little child's troubles. Reed helped."
Larsen wants to continue being a helper, too, as she embarks on her 51st year as a Utah teacher this fall.