Briefs: News from around the state

Outstanding STEM teachers earn Sawtooth Awards

Idaho STEM Action Center honored educators Misti Newby and Chad Maxton with the 2023 Sawtooth STEM Educator Awards for championing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and integrating real-world experiences and hands-on activities into their classrooms.

Idaho STEM Action Center is an education and growth catalyst helping educators, businesses, families, and communities prepare the workforce of tomorrow. You can learn more at

“These educators represent the dedication and innovation needed to prepare students and our communities for the challenges of the future,” Gov. Brad Little said. “Thank you to these outstanding educators for inspiring them to embrace innovation, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking.”

Newby, the winner in the K-6 category, teaches science and STEM in grades 1-8 at Grace Joint School District. She also serves as the Eastern Idaho school district’s girls wrestling coach along with her husband, James, who coaches the boys team. This is her sixth year at Black Canyon Elementary School in Grace and her 19th year teaching. As the only female science teacher in the district, Newby serves as an important role model for girls interested in science and STEM, according to her colleagues.

Maxton, the Sawtooth Awards winner in the 7-12 category, is known throughout the Caldwell School District for his tireless efforts to expand STEM opportunities. Maxton teaches math, social studies, and pre-engineering to students in grades 6-8 at Syringa Middle School. He has served as a teacher for 32 years, spending all of them in Caldwell.

Both educators will receive checks for $2,000 and up to $2,000 more to attend any STEM-related national conference, plus their schools will receive $2,000 each to fund STEM initiatives. 

Superintendent hosts new education-focused podcast programs

Parents can learn about important education topics through the Idaho Department of Education’s new podcast called “The Super in 10.” 

Superintendent Debbie Critchfield will explore various topics like community schools, data in education and strategic planning. A two-part episode features a conversation with Idaho State Police Director Col. Kedrick Wills on the danger that fentanyl poses. Other guests include Marsing School District Superintendent Norm Stewart and Ryan Cantrell, chief deputy superintendent at the Idaho Department of Education.

“The podcast is designed for parents, educators, administrators, policymakers and any Idahoan with an interest in education,” Critchfield said. “I hope to engage the state in a discussion about a wide variety of important topics, and do it in a way that’s informative and convenient at the same time.”

The department released the first five episodes this month, each about 10 minutes in length. Episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. They are also available to stream on the department’s website as well as its YouTube channel.

14 schools get USDA grant funds for kitchen equipment

The Department of Education has awarded $129,459 in federal grant funding through its Child Nutrition Programs to help 14 schools to purchase new equipment for their breakfast programs.

The department received the funding through the United States Department of Agriculture Equipment Assistance Grant. Individual grant awards will fund new equipment including freezers, ovens, refrigerators, mixers and dishwashers.

Schools receiving 2023 grant awards include:

  • Fruitland High School: milk cooler, $2,299.
  • Payette Food Service warehouse: refrigeration unit, $9,426.
  • Upriver School: electric cook/holding oven, $12,158.
  • MacKay School District: reach-in refrigerator, $5,493.
  • Lakeside Middle/High school: high temperature dishwasher, $12,733.
  • Meadows Valley School: reach-in refrigerator, $3,166.
  • Orofino District: counterbalance walkie reach truck, $16,680.
  • Elevate Nampa: fridge/freezer combo, $4,628.
  • Westside High School: mixer, $11,010.
  • Jefferson Middle School: dishwasher , $13,826.
  • Carey School: electric convection oven, $12,085.
  • Valley School District: heated holding/proofing cabinet, $2,408.
  • Northwest Children’s Home: gas oven, $7,218.
  • West Ada: outdoor walk-in freezer, $16,325.
Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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