Education news around Idaho

Teachers nominated for Presidential Award

Three science teachers and one math teacher have been nominated for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Anna Whipple, Sean Boston, Erin Tiderman-Gross and Kasey Burkholder were recognized during an awards banquet in Pocatello this month as a PAEMST nominee. The four teachers will advance to a national competition later this year, where one science and one math teacher from each state will be named winners.

PAEMST recognition is the nation’s highest honor for teachers of math and science. Nominees serve as a model for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. 

Here’s a brief description of each teacher:

Anna Whipple is a math teacher at Kootenai High School located 7 miles south of Harrison on the eastern side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. She has taught classes at every grade level and enjoys the challenge of helping students grow in their in-depth mathematical thinking.

“An effective teacher is always learning,” Whipple said.

Sean Boston is a science teacher at Capital High School in the Boise School District.

He created Capital’s first computer science and calculus-based physics courses and opened doors for students beyond the classroom, including science research internships at NASA and two Gates Millennium Scholars.

“Teaching is the best way to mix your life’s work with becoming a more complete person and impact your community,” Boston said.

Erin Tiderman-Gross is a biology teacher at Rocky Mountain High School in the West Ada School District. She is the National Honor Society adviser for Rocky Mountain, managing and mentoring more than 200 top students.

“I teach to inspire students to think deeply, to nurture a love and appreciation for science, and most of all, to convince students that they have the ability to learn anything,” Tiderman-Gross said.

Kasey Burkholder is a science teacher at Eagle Academy in the West Ada School District. Partnering with other teachers is a passion and joy of Burkholder’s. She is a mentor and facilitator in Restorative Practice, teaching colleagues and students the value of restoring a sense of community within schools.

“I want to help each of my students gain the key to their success by providing them tools, an understanding of the power of knowledge, and the realization that they matter in their community,” Burkholder said.

BSU College of Education awarded $5.7 million grant

A team from Boise State University’s College of Education has been awarded a four-year research grant on school safety of $5.7 million from the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which is funded by the National Institute of Justice. The project will finalize and pilot the Idaho Rural Implementation Model for Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS), which is designed to meet the needs of rural schools.
“This record research grant award for the College of Education provides national renown for this important work, and it highlights the value of connecting research faculty with practitioners to inform what works in education,” said Rich Osguthorpe, dean of the College of Education.
The project will be led by Katie Bubak-Azevedo, director of the Idaho Positive Behavior Network housed in the College of Education Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies, and Lindsey Turner, director of the Initiative for Healthy Schools and a research professor at Boise State University.

“Not only will we be learning what truly works in rural schools, but we will simultaneously be setting up Idaho educators and students for success,” Bubak-Azevedo said. “Our goal is to build sustainable systems that are effective and positive, through capacity building where our team becomes unnecessary but remains available.”

STEM Action Center creates nonprofit foundation

The Idaho STEM Action Center announced creation of the Idaho STEM Action Center Foundation to raise awareness and funding for science, technology, engineering and math education and related workforce development efforts.

The foundation will help the STEM Action Center implement best practices in education, provide year-round experiences and opportunities for educators and students, and connect education to industry resources to enhance Idaho’s long-term economic prosperity.

Maureen O’Toole, the STEM Action Center Foundation’s founder, is a military veteran who also served as CEO for Southern Idaho’s Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council and as a public school teacher in Idaho.

“The foundation will improve the STEM Action Center’s ability to provide innovative, life-shaping education,” O’Toole said. “It offers a way for organizations and individuals to donate to the STEM Action Center and enhance the wonderful investment Idaho’s legislators and governor have made in the Idaho STEM community.”

The STEM Action Center reached more than 204,000 students and nearly 5,000 teachers with STEM education and experiences in the last year.

Grants available for after-school programs

The State Department of Education will award about $1.5 million in five-year grants to operate after-school programs across Idaho starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

Local educational agencies, community-based organizations, tribal organizations and other public and private organizations are eligible to apply for the funds.

“If your school community is committed to providing opportunities for youth to thrive and succeed, I encourage you to explore this program,” said Andrew Fletcher, a student engagement coordinator for the State Department of Education.

Grant applications are due by Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

The State Department of Education will host an eligibility webinar for all those interested in applying for grant funds at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 27. To register for the webinar and upcoming Request for Application (RFA) workshops, click here.

Regional RFA workshops will be held across the state in November to help applicants understand the process and requirements. The free workshops last from 8 a.m. to noon:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7 – 415 Main St., second floor, Lewiston
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Coeur d’Alene; 1000 W. Garden Ave., Coeur d’Alene
  • Friday, Nov. 10 – 1303 E. Central Drive, Meridian
  • Friday, Nov. 17 – 242 Main Ave., Twin Falls
  • Saturday, Nov. 18 – 3115 Pole Line Road, Pocatello

Art contest open to Idaho students

Students in public schools throughout Idaho have the opportunity to visualize their college or career goals this fall through the State Department of Education’s annual Planning My Future art contest.

Students in grades 7-12 can participate in the contest, capturing their personal vision of what it means for schools and students to achieve using persistence and determination.

All entries must be postmarked by Dec. 1, 2017. The winning entry will be featured in future Idaho State Department of Education publications.

How to submit:

  1. Students must be Idaho public school students in grades 7-12.
  2. Artwork should focus on two key questions: What are your college or career goals? How does perseverance in education contribute to your success?
  3. Artwork should be submitted in an 8.5” x 11” portrait format.
  4. Artwork must be properly labeled with the following: Name of student, grade of student, district and school that student attends and name of teacher.
  5. Students may use any medium they choose (i.e. paint, pencil, digital, etc.).
  6. Entry into the contest constitutes permission for the department to republish the artwork without compensation to the artist. Artwork will not be returned.
  7. Artwork should be mailed to:

Idaho State Department of Education

Peggy Wenner

P.O. Box 83720

Boise, ID 83720-0027

Blaine County schools celebrate Farm to School Week

Blaine County School District kids will celebrate Farm to School Week Oct. 16-19 with fruit and veggie tastings at four schools (Bellevue, Alturas, Hailey and Hemingway STEAM School). Volunteers from Local Food Alliance and Blaine County Food Council — including Blaine County Commissioner Angenie McCleary, local farmer Brett Stevenson and The Hunger Coalition’s Lynea Petty — will encourage students to try new vegetables, herbs and fruit.

North Star Charter School breaks ground on sport complex

Staff at North Star Charter School broke ground on phase one of a $2.5 million sports complex and playground. The new complex will include, a five-lane all-weather track, multi-use sports field, a sport court, a six-circuit fitness area, outdoor classroom, extended playground, student drop off and pick up lane and an additional parking lot. Funding for the project came from local donations, parents and staff.


Andrew Reed

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