Educators honored for mentoring

A group of 21 educators with almost 400 years of combined teaching experience were honored Tuesday night by Boise State University’s College of Education.

The teachers, specialists, counselors and teaching coaches were nominated by their peers and selected by a judging panel as Mentors of the Year in the fourth annual “Celebration of Teaching” awards dinner held at Stueckle Sky Center.

“What better way to celebrate, than to bring together a remarkable group of mentors and recognize their contribution to the education profession,” said Rich Osguthorpe, dean of the BSU’s College of Education.

Each educator was presented with a $500 check, ceramic apple and gift bag of swag.

“Mentoring is one of the things I’m most proud of in my teaching career,” said honoree Laila Hedberg, a second-grade teacher at Mill Creek Elementary in the Middleton School District. “I get to share my passion for teaching.”

The evening was an opportunity to honor educators who spend extra time coaching those new to the profession but it also was an opportunity to network and meet others with similar professional goals.

“I was so surprised to be honored,” said Rebecca Sobolewski, a fourth-grade teacher from Crimson Point Elementary in Kuna. “Mentoring is so fun because I work with new teachers and I’m able to see their confidence build.”

Honoree Craig Sheehy of Nampa’s C0lumbia High added: “We all start out new and we all need support.”

BSU’s Resident Teacher in Space Barbara Morgan was the keynote speaker and said: “Mentoring is the key to continuing professional development for all educators.”

Tuesday’s event was sponsored by Capital Educators Credit Union, NORCO, Roger and Barbara Michener, TeachIdaho, Albertsons LLC, BSU’s College of Education and The Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies.

Here is a list of the honorees and information and comments from their nomination letters:

Stephanie Brown from Idaho Arts Charter School, Nampa

  • Teaches fifth and sixth grade
  • 19 years of experience
  • Idaho Core Teacher Network participant, Discovery ED trainer, leads professional development for staff
  • “Stephanie’s two main qualities are that she is a great listener, and she is proactive. She always listens to others, thinks about the situation and interacts with others in a positive, reflective manner.”

Khrista Buschhorn from Harrison Elementary School, Twin Falls School District

  • Twin Falls English Language Learners coach
  • 18 years of experience
  • District ELL coach, school instructional coach, delivered RTI and Best Practices professional development
  • “One of Khrista’s most admirable traits is that she would never accept any sort of recognition for the extra effort that she has to put in to be an excellent mentor to all the ESL teachers in the district.”

Candace Chase from Capital High School, Boise School District

  • Secondary Self-Contained Special Education
  • 10 years of experience
  • Nominated by her student teacher: “It didn’t take me long to figure out that not only was this my ideal placement but I was also with the best mentor I could ask for.”
  • “Candace is an excellent role model for special education teachers, and especially beginning special education teachers for students with moderate to severe disabilities.”

John Dunt from Skyview High School, Nampa School District

  • 10th through 12th grade science teacher
  • 16 years of experience
  • Leaders of school professional development, member of multiple best practices studies, new teacher mentor
  • “Jon is an unsung hero that his peers look up to for his dedication to the profession, his love of learning and his love for the students at Skyview High School.”

Mark Elli from East Canyon Elementary School, Vallivue School District

  • Second grade teacher
  • 14 years of experience
  • Idaho Core Network coach, grade level leader, district English Language Arts committee member
  • “Mark comes across as approachable and friendly because he mentors like a teacher should, providing time to grapple with the material, trying to incorporate a variety of perspectives into discussions and addressing misconceptions immediately.”

Donna Graybill from Lincoln Elementary School, Twin Falls School District

  • Elementary counselor
  • Five years of experience
  • Developed wellness program for staff, implements positive behavior system trainings, district wellness committee member
  • “Synonymous with mentoring at Lincoln Elementary is school counselor Donna Graybill. Supporting her mentee teachers is a constant occurrence. Donna knows that the higher number of adult role models within our school, the more success we will have in building positive relationships with students.”

Sandi Hazen from Frontier Elementary School, West Ada School District

  • Elementary counselor
  • Five years of experience
  • During her career she has had 12 interns, one practicum student and mentored five other district counselors
  • “By showing and sharing her personal love for learning, she instills this commitment of professional growth to not only the ones that she “officially” mentors but to all those she meets. Sandi takes the time to fully understand those that she mentors, even giving them personality inventories, Love Language surveys, and strengths questionnaires.”

Laila Hedberg from Mill Creek Elementary School, Middleton School District

  • Second grade teacher
  • 14 years of experience
  • Mentor Teacher for Boise State education program, implements Love and Logic professional development for staff
  • “Laila has had the opportunity to work with many Boise State teacher candidates over her career and maintains professional relationships with many of those former students. Her former student teachers visit her classroom, share ideas with her, and still seek out her advice in their teaching. When a Boise State teacher candidate has Laila for a mentor for one semester, they are actually gaining a mentor for life.”

Dolly Higgins from Anser Charter School, Boise

  • Upper Childhood teacher
  • Seven years of experience
  • Counseling background and studies from Harvard University
  • “Dolly Higgins has got to be the mentor of the year, if not the decade. She is fun and creative and inspires everyone around her to dig deeper, think more and support each other better. Dolly has a passion for education that she cheerfully and tirelessly shares with others.”

Barbara Lehnus from Heritage Academy, Jerome School District

  • Second grade teacher
  • 35 years of experience
  • K-4 grade level leader, designs and implements new programs for K-8
  • “My only regret concerning Barb Lehnus is that every child and every beginning teacher should have had Ms. Lehnus as a teacher, and as a mentor, respectively, in his or her life.”

Allyson Maynard from Anser Charter School, Boise

  • Seventh and eighth grade science teacher
  • Nine years of experience
  • Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, junior high crew leader
  • “One of the best aspects of Allyson as a mentor teacher is that her mentoring is done from the perspective of a colleague. She is always positive and provides recommendations in a way that are helpful and insightful. Whenever I have approached Allyson with a problem or question she is always helped me come up with a solution. “

Meghan McDonagh from Eagle Hills Elementary School, West Ada School District

  • Elementary Gifted and Talented specialist
  • 20 years of experience
  • Multi-school teacher mentor, facilitates multi-school GT program, pursuing a second master’s in Education Leadership
  • “Meghan is a truly exceptional support to her classroom teachers. She attends and often leads regular collaborations and meetings and takes the initiative to share resources, which are always tailored to the needs of the specific teacher or student with whom she is working.”

Alan Melby from Meridian Medical Arts Charter School, West Ada School District

  • High school math teacher
  • 37 years of experience
  • Creator of “Melbyland”, school leadership committee member
  • “As his career quickly advances toward the day he decides to step away from Melbyland, I lament the inevitable truth that he won’t be right next door. He has been essential to my success as an educator and he has heavily influenced me personally: shaping the man I have become. Not a school day goes by where I don’t utilize lessons learned from my good friend and mentor next door.”

Leslie Parker from Homedale Elementary School, Homedale School District

  • Title 1 Instructional coach
  • 33 years of experience
  • Teacher, counselor, coach, district leadership team member
  • “I have to admit that not only does Leslie help many classroom teachers, but she also serves as an unofficial mentor for numerous staff members – including the superintendent. Leslie lives the motto “people don’t always remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel.”

Courtney Shearer from Reed Elementary School, Kuna School District

  • Second Grade Dual Language specialist
  • 13 years of experience
  • Boise State mentor teacher for Dual Immersion teachers, in 10 years she has mentored 16 student teachers and five interns
  • “Courtney spends time building a relationship with her mentees at the beginning of their field experience, getting to know them personally and professionally. This relationship deepens due to the trust that is built, as exemplified by her inclusion of the mentees in making decisions within the classroom. Courtney believes in fostering growth during the teacher candidate’s experience in her classroom, regardless of their starting point.

Craig Sheehy from Columbia High School, Nampa School District

  • High school Spanish teacher
  • 12 years of experience
  • Teacher Leadership team member, adjunct faculty at Boise State College of Western Idaho, master teacher in the language-learning model of Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS)
  • “All you have to do is Google Craig Sheehy and find the “rate your professor” sites and he has comments like: best professor I’ve ever had; I learned more in one semester than I learned in taking multiple years of Spanish; he went out of his way to help us learn in and outside of class, etc. He is a pure educator and genuine servant leader.”

Rebecca Sobolewski from Crimson Point Elementary School, Kuna School District

  • Fourth grade teacher
  • 25 years of experience
  • Mentored three teachers this year
  • “Not only is Becky a rock star fourth grade teacher, but she continuously amazes me with her commitment to quality and intentional instruction that takes place in her classroom. Her commitment is also instilled in those that she mentors.

Mary Terrell from Harrison Elementary School, Twin Falls School District

  • Instructional coach
  • 29 years of experience
  • School Leadership team member, delivered technology professional development by learning it first, then teaching it
  • “Mrs. Terrell has been an amazing mentor this year. She has been willing to teach classes, she is constantly studying our new curriculum, going to trainings, watching and involved with seminar videos. She is happily sharing new resources that will benefit me as an educator as well as my students as learners. Her willingness to reach out and grow as an educator has been motivating to me as well as my peers.”

Catherine Turpin from Oregon Trail Elementary School, Twin Falls School District

  • Instructional coach
  • 25 years of experience
  • RTI team leaders, Building Leadership team member
  • “She leaves no stone uncovered when it comes to finding the right academic avenue for each child and teacher’s success. Catherine is very unassuming in her knowledge base, but certainly leads by example. She challenges her teachers to improve.”

Terry Waitley from Jerome High School, Jerome School District

  • High school government teacher
  • 18 years of experience
  • Dedication to school track and field and mentoring building teachers

Kristen Williams from Jerome High School, Jerome School District

  • Kindergarten teacher
  • 12 years of experience
  • Mentored two teachers simultaneously this year, Boise State mentor teacher
  • “She is the hardest working, most tender hearted person I have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside. Her mentorship and daily dedication to education has changed my outlook on teaching and my experience as a student teacher. She has taught me how to teach without tiring, to give without expectations and love education and students endlessly.”

 Idaho Education News is housed in Boise State’s Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies in the College of Education.

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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