Education news from around Idaho

Members of the Idaho chapter of the Iron Order motorcycle club earlier this month donated 56 backpacks to the Nampa McKinney-Vento program serving homeless students and families.

The Boise-based chapter gathered donations from Campbell Tractor in Nampa and TK Bar in Boise to purchase various backpacks, some striped with black-and-yellow construction scenes, covered in little dinosaurs or bright pink with horses.

“These are kids that typically have no choices in life, so it’s really awesome when you’re not just giving (a backpack) to them, they get to pick out which one they want,” Natalie Sandoval, Nampa’s McKinney-Vento coordinator, told the motorcycle group.

Iron Order hopes to sponsor a Nampa family around the holidays as well, maybe paying for a few days in a hotel room and delivering a family meal.

“We all have a soft spot for little kids,” said Jake Jacoby, chapter vice-president. “To see kids grow up and not have what you and I had when we were kids, that kind of tears me apart.”

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BPA health expands student-assistance program to a Caldwell charter 

Heritage Community Charter school in Caldwell is partnering with BPA Health to provide a new mental health support service for students. Starting this month, students have access to five free counseling sessions through a student and family assistance program, similar to employee-assistance programs frequently offered by employers.

This type of service is gaining popularity across the state. Cassia County created a similar program, called CONNECT, years ago. Twin Falls announced this summer that it would use federal funds to establish a student-assistance program through BPA Health, and the State Department of Education is exploring whether it could create such a service statewide.

The Heritage student and family assistance program includes a 24/7 hotline for families and students who need emergency mental health assistance. Families can access their free counseling sessions in-person or online.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this resource to students, families and the Caldwell community. As a parent and a business leader, I know how much mental health can affect a student’s ability to thrive in the classroom,” BPA CEO Sarah Woodley said in a news release. “The more we can provide spaces for young  people and their families to easily and readily access support, the healthier and stronger our communities will be.”

Treasure Valley educators win STEM Action Center awards 

BOISE, Idaho (Oct. 21, 2021) — The Idaho STEM Action Center presented Boise teacher Kellie Taylor with a 2021 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, or INDEEDS for short, at the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame & Resilience Showcase. The winner in the kindergarten through sixth-grade category, Dr. Taylor teaches gifted and talented second- and third-graders at Hawthorne Elementary School in Boise, as well as an after-school robotics program. (Photo by Mark Hewes for the Idaho STEM Action Center)

A Boise Gifted and Talented teacher and West Ada engineering instructor are recipients of 2021 Industry’s Excellent Educators awards from the Idaho STEM Action Center.

BOISE, Idaho (Oct. 21, 2021) — The Idaho STEM Action Center presented West Ada teacher Sarah Oosterhuis with a 2021 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, or INDEEDS for short, at the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame & Resilience Showcase. The winner in the seventh- through 12th-grade category, Oosterhuis teaches engineering at Renaissance High School in Meridian and serves as an adjunct instructor at Northwest Nazarene University and University of Idaho. (Photo by Mark Hewes for the Idaho STEM Action Center)

The Boise district’s Kellie Taylor and the West Ada district’s Sarah Oosterhuis were selected for the awards by a panel of industry leaders for their commitment to STEM education and their help connecting students to opportunities to work with industry leaders. Both received $2,000 checks, another $2,000 to attend a STEM-related national conference, and $2,000 for their schools to spend on STEM initiatives.

Taylor, the winner in the kindergarten-6th grade category, works with gifted and talented students at Boise’s Hawthorne Elementary. She teaches an after-school robotics program and was recently an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator fellow, doing outreach for the Library of Congress. She arranged for her students to complete a satellite launch experiment for NASA and the kids are scheduled to talk with astronauts on the international space station.

“STEM is all around us,” Taylor said in a news release. “STEM education is important because we can teach our students to be creators rather than just consumers. Our connection with technology is only going to grow and we want to create students that can embrace that, grow it, and move with it.”

Oosterhuis, the secondary-education winner, teaches engineering at West Ada’s Renaissance High School and serves as an adjunct instructor at Northwest Nazarene University and the University of Idaho. Oosterhuis thinks that building a strong STEM foundation in K-12 schools is not only a way to make students competitive in careers, but also helps ensure that there’s equity in an increasingly high-tech world.

“We live in a world where technology is lending us a hand at every turn,” Oosterhuis said in a news release. “The trick is how we can equitably and ethically design, build, and maintain this complex world. I believe the answer lies in building a strong foundation in our K-12 schools, creating a pipeline into STEM education and careers that reflect the needs and diversity of the world we live in.”

Idaho Historical Society offers scholarships for tours

The Idaho State Historical Society and Foundation for Idaho History are offering $10,000 worth of scholarships to cover transportation and admission costs to state museums. The scholarship is open to K-12 schools and can be used to pay for trips to:

  • Idaho State Museum in Boise
  • Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite in Hansen
  • Historic Franklin properties in Franklin
  • The Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise

The Ray Knight Memorial Scholarship, named for a volunteer who worked at the Old Pen, has awarded more than $42,000 in scholarships to 88 schools in the last decade. Grants are awarded based on need, distance traveled and how the field trip applies to what’s being taught in class.

The application deadline is Nov. 1, 2021 and questions can be directed to Amber Beierle at 208-488-7480 or [email protected].

Find an application at:

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