Kaisa Mortensen – Falcon Ridge Elementary

Feb 14, 2023, 4:32 PM | Updated: Feb 6, 2024, 2:48 pm

Animation of an award for the teacher feature special by KSL...

Update: February 2023

“Miss M is by far the most kind, accepting and energetic teacher! Kindergarten is such an important grade to start off how exciting school can be. She sets the tone perfectly. She greats every child with love and happiness to see them. She goes out of her way to make sure every child feels comfortable and has fun. My son really struggled with going to school. But she helped change that! She is one teacher that every child will remember.”

-Merilee Benware

Original Nomination: January 2013

My son Connor started first grade in July 2011. His teacher was Kaisa Mortensen. I knew I liked his teacher but did not know much about her. I still remember sitting in her classroom at back to school night feeling like she would somehow make a difference in my sons life. They made an instant connection. Connor loved attending school and Miss M(as the kids call her) seemed very fond of Connor. It was just what every parent hopes for. Attending school did seem a little hard for Connor.
He was falling asleep every day in odd places and just was not himself. His dad and I thought it was just fatigue from spending full days at school. The end of September A track went off track, a few days later Connor started to fever and was very ill. Days and weeks went by with many doctor visits and no answers. On November 9, 2011 our world was shattered when our sweet six year boy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This meant Connor was in a fight for his life. Attending school was no longer an option, he would spend many, many days and nights in the hospital and would suffer all the physical and emotional devastation that comes with Chemotherapy and a cancer diagnosis. Our world would never be the same. At times of such crisis we have learned that heroes emerge, people who have a kind heart, a good soul and would anything to help. Miss Mortensen is one of those people.

I remember making the phone call to the school asking to talk to Miss Mortensen. I needed to deliver the news that Connor would not be returning to school. I can still here the sadness and shock in her voice. A few days later Miss M asked me if she come visit Connor at the Hospital. She had cards from the kids, books and many other things to help the time go by. Connor always lights up when he sees her and she always puts a smile on his face. Months past and we were in and out of the hospital and Connor continued to be very ill. Miss M always was calling or texting to check on him and see what she could do help. The time came when the doctors said they thought he was ready for home school. I was so EXCITED and overjoyed when Miss M said she would be honored to do his home school herself. She came twice a week( when he was up to it). Connor was always so happy to see her. It gave him a sense of being normal and they get along so well. Connors immune system is very low and fragile and he didn’t get out much. Seeing Miss M was the highlight of his week. She not only provided him an education but also lifted his spirits. I could often here giggling from his bedroom. Many times after school work was done she would stay longer just to play with him. They would do art, play video games or just be silly. Home school continued all the way through first grade. She even walked his entire school class to our house with a Happy Birthday Banner and lots of balloons and they sang happy birthday and danced on our front lawn! Connor was overjoyed and giggly. She always makes him feel better even when he is having a rough day.

I cannot tell you how AMAZING it was to have his own first grade teacher come to our home and educate him and become a great friend to our family.

Connor was able to return to school on a part time basis for second grade. Miss M is not his teacher but continues to be very involved. Falcon ridge is currently having a fundraiser for him called “Coins for Connor” the children are bringing money to school and all the profits are going to cancer based charities. Miss M has volunteered to let Connor shave her head if $2,500 is raised and as of today the total is $2,600 so looks she will soon have a bald head! The money has been raised in a weeks time and there is still three weeks to go. The principal has also offered to have head shaved so it looks like a double head shaving party will be happening soon!!! I have never seen a more involved, caring teacher. She would do anything for my little Connor. She has truly made a difference is his life. The first day I met her I knew she was a special person. I just had no idea how what a crucial part she would become in his life and what a great friend to me she would become. If anyone deserves to be “Teacher of the Year” it’s her. She has gone beyond the extra mile and is truly a HERO!!!

–Tammy Boyd

“Miss M” is amazing! My daughter came into her class late last year and she helped my daughter adjust so well and so quickly.

One of my daughter’s friends was diagnosed with leukemia partway through the year, and she has been such an active part of his life it amazes me. She has taken on his homeschooling, helped raise awareness, helped with childhood cancer fundraisers, and I have seen how much she loves him and his family.

She is a wonderful teacher and an amazing person. She gives so much of herself to everyone she’s comes in contact with. I would love to see her receive something in return.

–Shelly Visser

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Kaisa Mortensen – Falcon Ridge Elementary