Education news around Idaho

Presidential Scholar nominations open for seniors

Idaho high school seniors interested in being nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program are encouraged to submit applications to the State Department of Education by Nov. 2.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the president to honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

Seniors are automatically considered for participation if they will graduate during this school year and they scored exceptionally well on either the SAT or the ACT college admission test during the two-year window that began in September 2016 and runs through October 2018. The U.S. Department of Education looks at test records in each state and selects the top 20 male examinees and top 20 female examinees in each state as automatic candidates.

In addition, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra may nominate up to 10 other male and 10  female candidates from Idaho based on their outstanding scholarship. Students who have not been notified by the Presidential Scholars program of their eligibility and who would like to be considered for a nomination by Ybarra should go to the State Department of Education website for details on how to submit an application.

Ybarra also can nominate up to five students based on their accomplishments in career and technical education (CTE) fields. Those students should submit the same materials listed on the website but should note in the self-assessment they are seeking the CTE nomination.

Click here to apply.

Two teachers earn INDEEDS awards

The Idaho STEM Action Center has honored two teachers who champion science, technology, engineering and mathematics and connect students with industry leaders to mentor projects and provide invaluable career guidance.

A panel of industry experts selected Marsing teacher John Barenberg and Plummer teacher Laura Wommack to receive the 2018 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM awards (INDEEDS) which the Idaho Technology Council presented at its Hall of Fame and Idaho Innovation Awards Gala this month. 

Barenberg, grew up in Marsing and has taught at the elementary school for 32 years. He has pioneered the use of technology including virtual reality, Chromebooks, coding and robotics in the classroom. He also has worked with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to show STEM teachers throughout the state how to jumpstart technology implementation.

“Kids are so curious and like to tinker and click and try things to see what happens,” Barenberg said. “Making observations is the fundamental step of the scientific method, and virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, coding and devices like tablets and Chromebooks bring learning to life and allow kids to play with things and build things and see how it all works and interacts.”

Wommack teaches math and science at Lakeside Junior-Senior High School in Plummer and has worked in education for 16 years.

“Teaching STEM subjects at the secondary level in rural districts can inspire kids to go on to better-paying and highly valued STEM careers,” Wommack said. “Rural schools don’t have much money and the perception can be that the education isn’t as good, so I work hard to ensure my students and their parents have as many opportunities as kids in other places have.”

The awards were established by the governor’s office in 2000, under then Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. Industry leaders from Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Power Co., Hewlett-Packard, the Micron Foundation, LCF Enterprises and AECOM have sponsored and supported the program since it was initiated.

As part of the award, Barenberg and Wommack each received $2,000 for themselves and another $2,000 for STEM initiatives at their schools courtesy of sponsors. The teachers will also attend a STEM-related national conference.

Nampa High students display art

More than 100 Nampa High School students will participate in the Día de los Muertos Steamroller Print Project hosted by JUMP in Boise on Nov. 1. 

Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is a celebration of life. Each student has selected an ancestor to remember for this project. Drawing students created print images inspired by the life of their ancestor, while Spanish students wrote comic obituaries. Drawing and Spanish students collaborated to develop original Spanish Legends about the lives of their ancestors and a print image illustrating that legend.

The event is free and is at JUMP during First Thursday from 4-9 p.m. on Nov. 1.


Andrew Reed

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