[Courtesy photo]

From teachers to coaches to arts instructors, Moab thrives in part because of the unconditional dedication of those who have an eye on the long-term well-being of its young people.

It truly does take a village, as Karisa Larsen, a professional photographer, self-taught Quickbooks wizard and mother of two can attest.

A member of the Moab Charter School Board, her fundraising efforts, administrative support and periodic treats of delicious home cooking for the teachers make her an invaluable asset to the school, said Principal Emma Weiss.

“She’s really just incredible,” Weiss said. “Everything she does is just so heartfelt, and you know that she does it because she wants to, and she loves to do it. She wants her kids to have a good education and she wants the charter school to be successful.”

The fifth grade class, including her daughter, will go to Washington, D.C. this spring, a trip that is funded entirely by outside donations. Larsen and a fellow parent volunteer approached Weiss about it with a commitment to fundraising, and have raised more than $17,000 for the educational opportunity.

“For our little school, that’s huge,” Weiss said.

Larsen is going to accompany the students as a parent chaperone, and she and her daughter will both experience visiting the nation’s capital for the first time together.

With her talents as a photographer and digital designer, Larsen also creates the school’s annual yearbook.

“Quite honestly, with the effort she puts into our school, it could really be a full-time job,” Weiss said.

Larsen has filled the bill as a coach herself, running Girls on the Run for BEACON Afterschool Program for two years. Last year, she hosted the Halloween Fun Run fundraiser for the charter school, and is preparing for another fun run in April this year. She also continues to be a critical part of the success of her girls’ dance program, Just Dance Company.

“She does everything for me,” said the company’s owner and instructor, Sara Burraston. “Accounting, costume orders, runs errands. I don’t know what I’d do without that woman.”

Two years ago, Burraston was considering closing the business because of the stress it put on her family and finances. Larsen and other moms stepped in immediately.

“We told her, ‘Tell us what you need, anything, we’ll do it – just don’t close the school!’” Larsen said, chuckling at the memory. “She was like – ‘Really?’”

For Larsen, offering support when and however she can is a foregone conclusion, she said.

“Moab’s always been home,” she said. “Everyone helps everyone, so no matter what it is, especially if it involves kids, I just try to help.”

“I want my girls to feel the sense of community. They can go to anyone in this community, they probably know them, and can ask for help,” she added. “It’s like family everywhere.”

This profile was made possible by the generous support of Rocky Mountain Power.