Education news from across Idaho

State accepting Teacher of the Year nominations

The State Department of Education is taking nominations for Idaho’s next Teacher of the Year — a top honor that awards money and requires statewide travel to promote Idaho education. 

Nominations are due by March 14, the SDE said in a recent news release. Nominated teachers are notified and can apply by May 9. The agency will announce the winning teacher in a surprise school visit in September.

“Idaho is full of passionate, innovative teachers who inspire their students to dream and achieve,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said. “Choose a favorite teacher who has made a difference for you or your child, then send us a nomination.”

All public school teachers are eligible.

This year’s Idaho Teacher of the Year, Todd Knight, called for changes to standardized testing in a presentation to state lawmakers last month. Knight, a West Ada alternative school teacher, teaches science, engineering and coding at Crossroads Middle School in Meridian.

About 150 teachers were nominated last year, the release said. Visit the “Idaho Teacher of the Year” page on the State Department of Education’s website to nominate teachers. 

Students nominated for presidential scholar program

Seventy-seven Idaho students were nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, according to a U.S. Department of Education list of the over 5,000 students in the running this year.

Established in 1964, the program recognizes seniors who score well on college entrance exams, or who demonstrate exceptional art or career-technical ability.

Up to 161 students are chosen each year. The department says it will announce the scholars in May. 

Elected officials to help raise money for schools

Seventy Idaho elected officials have committed to a Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health challenge that promotes walking as physical exercise and raises funds for schools.

To raise $500 for a school or district, the officials must walk an average of 5,000 steps each day in February. An average daily step count of 10,000 raises $1,000.

Numerous state legislators, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and State Controller Brandon Woolf are signed up, the non-profit announced in a news release last week. The program raised $50,000 for Idaho schools last year, the release said, and has raised over $167,000 since its start in 2015.

Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health Executive Director Kendra Witt-Doyle said this year’s turnout shows elected officials “understand how important walking is for their own health.” 

“They are all setting a great example about the importance of daily physical activity and contributing to a local school in the process,” she said.

Robot contest gears up

Dozens of Idaho high school students are preparing their robots for the Idaho First Robotics Regional contest this spring.

The competition tests students’ abilities to get robots to accomplish certain tasks. This year’s competition will focus on tasks like shooting volleyballs into targets and navigating teeter totters and stepping stones.

The 2018 Idaho regional robotics competition.

Teams have diverse roles for students — from graphic design to building robots and scouting other teams’ tactics before the elimination rounds, contest media coordinator Gabrielle Stoller said.

“Robotics is so cool, because there’s an element for everybody in there,” Stoller said.

About a dozen teams will compete at the regional competition at the Idaho Center from March 31 to April 2. 

Teams are led by unpaid mentors, who often work in STEM, Stoller said.

Idaho’s competition is one of hundreds that take place across the world as qualifiers to the international contest, which will be held in mid-April in Houston.

Non-profit eyes expanded facility

The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lewis Clark Valley are setting out to remodel their facilities using more than $3 million in donor support, according to a news release from last week.

The gifts, $2.2 million from Ed and Beatriz Schweitzer and $1 million from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory, will support remodeling the former Lewiston High School campus that the clubs bought last year.

“Our organization has been in the silent phase of our capital campaign for the past 14 months, and gifts of this magnitude open the doors to some amazing possibilities for what we can do in that old building,” said Brad Rice, the Clubs’ board president.

Boise-based LKV Architects are creating design and construction plans, the release said.

Career-tech high school gets $4,000

An organization that voluntarily licenses Idaho building contractors recently donated $4,000 to Technical-Careers High School in Idaho Falls.

The move is meant to bolster construction careers, the Idaho Professional Building Contractor License Review Board said in a news release last week. The school, located in Bonneville School District, will use the funds to give students experience building a tiny home.

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Kyle Pfannenstiel

Reporter Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the implementation of policy in Idaho’s K-12 public school system. He’s a military brat and former health care reporter who holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from University of Idaho. Follow Kyle on Twitter @pfannyyy. He can be reached at [email protected].

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