Education news around Idaho

Happy Day Brands partners with The Idaho Foodbank to stock Nampa Elementary food pantry

Snake River Elementary School received 40 pounds of oatmeal Thursday, which will feed more than 50 families, thanks to Happy Day Brands and the Idaho Foodbank. The donation is the first of 100,000 servings heading to school pantries across the state. 

“Many times, our kiddos don’t know when they will get their next meal at home because their parents simply don’t have anything to feed them,” said Mari Ramos, the family community resource and engagement coordinator for the Nampa School District. 

Ramos said 87 percent of Snake River’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and 42 percent of residents near the school live in extreme poverty.

“We come from families where there wasn’t always enough food on the table,” said Mark Priddy, co-founder and CEO of Happy Day Brands. “We know firsthand how important programs like the school pantry are to kids and families in need.”

About 14,000 students attend school in the Nampa district, and nearly 1,400 are experiencing homelessness, according to superintendent Paula Kellerer.  

Happy Day Brands has pledged 100,000 servings of superfood, gluten-free oatmeal to The Idaho Foodbank’s school pantry program over the next year.

Carolyn Holly to join Idaho Business for Education

Carolyn Holly

Carolyn Holly will join Idaho Business for Education as vice president of development, beginning Jan. 2. Holly worked for more than two years at Saint Alphonsus Health System as vice president of marketing, communications, public relations and community engagement. Prior to her time at Saint Alphonsus, Holly worked for 33 years as a reporter and anchor for KTVB in Boise.

“I am thrilled that Carolyn is joining the IBE team to help us set our students up for success in school, work and life and create the workforce Idaho’s employers need,” said Rod Gramer, president and CEO of Idaho Business for Education.

IBE is a group of nearly 200 business leaders from across the state who are committed to transforming Idaho’s education system.

Five schools named finalist in STEM contest

Boise’s Fairmont Junior High School, Leadore School, Oakley High School, Post Falls Middle School and Vision Charter School were named state finalists in the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest, a nationwide competition that challenges sixth- through 12th-grade students to apply STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — skills to find creative solutions to real-world issues impacting their local communities.

Out of the thousands of schools that entered the contest this year, the 250 state finalist classrooms were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning.

All 250 classrooms selected as state finalists will receive one Samsung tablet and have the opportunity to advance through future phases of the contest to win additional prizes and educational opportunities.

Once a winning school has been chosen from each state, the top 10 schools from that group will progress onward as national finalists while the remaining 40 schools will each receive a $20,000 Samsung technology package. The 10 national finalists will attend a pitch event where they will present their project to a panel of judges.

The 10 national finalists will attend a pitch event, where they will present the project to judge panel. Seven schools will get a $50,000 technology package for achieving national finalist status. Three grand prize winners will receive $100,000 in classroom technology and supplies.

Educators to be honored for outstanding teaching

Boise State University’s College of Education will join Alan and Wendy Pesky, founders of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, in honoring four outstanding and inspirational K-12 Idaho teachers during the university’s winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 15.
Each year, graduating seniors in the College of Education nominate teachers for the award. Seniors choose those who inspired them to seek their own careers in education.
Pat Absalonson from Lewis and Clark Middle School in Meridian, Sylvia Fine from Kuna High School in Kuna, Laurie Roberts from Timberline High School in Boise and Juan Salamanca from Alturas Elementary School in Hailey all will receive awards during Boise State’s winter commencement ceremony. Each teacher will receive $2,000. Their schools each will receive $500.
“Being involved in public education, my wife and I have met many teachers. We know them, and have an appreciation of what teachers do,” said Alan Pesky. “These are our heroes, the people who are not teaching for the money, but because they can impact lives.”
Boise State senior Jenna Caven nominated music teacher Absalonson.
“His energy was unmatched and he had the patience to critique our posture and steps until they were perfect. I had no idea at the time that I wanted to teach, but I knew I wanted to have some of his charisma and ability to motivate people,” Caven said.
Senior Althea Rice nominated Fine, a language arts and creative writing teacher.
“She made people try their hardest and pushed us to become better writers and to pursue creative fields. She signed us up for the national poetry competition, and gave us the chance to participate in a national novel writing program,” said Rice.
Senior Sydney Scott nominated Roberts, who teaches literature.
“I think that I lived most of my life trying to impress my teachers and get them to ‘like me,’ but Miss Roberts was on my team before she met me. I know that I’m not the only student who feels this way about Miss Roberts. I can only hope to touch the lives of half as many kids as she has,” Scott said.
Senior Jackie Guzman nominated Salamanca, who teaches bilingual classes.
“Mr. Salamanca was the reason many parents who belong to the Hispanic community began to get involved in the education of their children. I consider Mr. Salamanca the bridge the community needed between Anglos and Hispanics,” Guzman said.
The Peskys founded the Lee Pesky Learning Center in 1997 in honor of their son Lee, who passed away in 1995 at age 30 from a brain tumor. As a child, Lee had to learn skills to overcome processing and dysgraphia, a problem with organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page. The nonprofit center, headquartered in Boise, serves mainly children and some adults with learning disabilities, as well as those from economically challenged homes. The center also provides educational services for Idaho teachers.

Andrew Reed

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