Ryan Larson, a 2019 MREA Educator of Excellence and 2020 National Rural Teacher of the Year Finalist, presented as a breakout speaker at the National Rural Education Association Convention and Symposium last week.


Last week, Ryan Larson from Pine City High School, represented his district, MREA, and all of Greater Minnesota education by presenting a session titled “Ignite the Fire: Developing Strong Programs for Vulnerable Students” to a national audience.

Larson was recognized in 2019 as an MREA Educator of Excellence for seeing the potential in at-risk students and developing an interdisciplinary project-based learning program that incorporates core academic standards for English, math, science, social studies and more. See Larson’s story.

In 2020, Larson was a finalist for the National Rural Education Association Teacher of the Year award. Read the news release.

In Larson’s breakout session, he highlighted Dragon Academy,  a school-within-a-school for 8th and 9th graders that combines project-based learning and direct instruction. In its seventh year, the Academy is changing the lives of students considered at-risk. Students ignite a fire for learning while meeting math, science, civics, geography, STEM, and English standards in an interdisciplinary approach. Through projects like maple syruping, boat building, and invasive buckthorn removal, the instructors build enduring relationships with students and connect academic content to their lives.

MREA was honored to sponsor Larson’s attend and presentation. Your MREA membership dollars help ensure we’re able to honor award recipients and represent the incredible work our state does in rural education at the national level.