Wal-Mart names teacher of the year

Kirsten Odegard's decade of work with at-risk youth was recognized Wednesday.

The math, science, health and art teacher at Opportunity High School received the Wal-Mart Foundation Teacher of the Year award.

"Not everybody is aware that we are an integral part of the district," Odegard said. "It's very rewarding to be identified and viewed as an important component."

Odegard is a 23-year teaching veteran and has been at Opportunity High for the past two years.

"I like it here," she said. "The kids are wonderful and my colleagues are absolutely fabulous. We have a real team approach."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. presented 3,000 teacher awards this year and contributed more than $1.5 million in grants for schools and school districts nationwide.

Dave Rankin, one of the assistant managers at the Carson City store, presented Odegard with the award, which includes a $500 grant for the school.

"It's a way to show our support for the community and the educators in our community," he said.

Charles Keller, Opportunity High principal, nominated Odegard for the award because her dedication and the extra effort she puts into the job.

"She's a consummate professional," he said.

"I was very flattered that the principal nominated me," Odegard said.

Opportunity High School serves as a second chance for students who have been removed from the traditional high school.

"I think we're an important component in the entire educational picture," Odegard said. "Not all students are successful at the high school for reasons that have nothing to do with their intelligence."

Students at Opportunity High School can graduate with Carson High students if they meet the class requirements and pass the proficiency exam.

"Coming here is not an easy way out," Odegard said. "They have the exact same criteria as the high school. We really are a part of Carson High, we're just in a hallway farther away from the main office."

Odegard said the school will graduate two, three or four students this year. Two have already passed the proficiency exams and two are waiting for the results of the final exam.

Odegard said her role and the role of the other three teachers at the school is to raise the students' self-esteem.

"By the time a student is kicked out of a regular school, they haven't seen a lot of success," she said. "We're dedicated to helping the kids see themselves as successful learners and successful people.

"They're not bad kids, they just made a bad choice somewhere along the way. They really are good kids."


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