May Top Notch Teacher

Fourth grade teacher Larry Swiggum hasn’t taught hundreds of students, or even finished a full year of teaching. But that hasn’t stopped him from standing out at Northern Hills Elementary in Onalaska.

It hasn’t taken long for parents and students to notice that experience doesn’t count for much when your teacher is Mr. Swiggum.

“He makes school fun, makes it exciting,” says Curt Rees, principal at Northern Hills. “When parents talk to me they say ‘man, my kid just really looks forward to coming to school everyday to be with Mr. Swiggum.”

Mr. Swiggum says he’s just trying to do for his students what a teacher once did for him.

“I had actually a male fourth grade teacher that kind of really inspired me,” Swiggum says.

Since his experience in fourth grade, teaching has always been Swiggum’s goal. And it turns out he’s pretty good at it.

“We did this huge unit on fractions,” says Eva Marchiando, a student in Swiggum’s class. “A lot of kids didn’t get it, including me because it was really hard. So we just went through different methods of figuring them out until finally he got a couple that most of us got it. “

“You teach a lesson and then right after the lesson, you’re like ‘I can do this different, or this different to make it better,” Swiggum says.

And with one year of teaching under his belt, Mr. Swiggum should have plenty of time to do just that.

Mr. Swiggum says his student’s progress during this school year is a constant reminder of why he became a teacher.

When the school year is over, Swiggum will coach youth athletics for the summer.