Getting ready for back-to-school: Education news from around Idaho

Students in the summer program for refugee students listen to a Boise librarian during a library field trip on Tuesday, Aug 3. Sami Edge/Idaho Education News

Standing in front of the foreign language section in the Collister Library Branch, library assistant Katie Fuller told her tour group that they might recognize some of the titles.

“Arabic!” one of the kids shouted, pointing to a book displayed on the shelf. “French!” said another.

“Do you speak french?” Fuller asked Mohammad, an elementary student at Boise’s Future Public School, to his affirmative reply.

About a dozen Boise-area refugee students spent their penultimate day of summer camp, Tuesday, touring the Boise library and talking about school readiness with camp leaders and role models. The theme of the day was “preparing for school success.” Boise School District students are back to class on August 16 and schools around the state open in the following weeks.

Lulu, who is starting kindergarten next year, plays with the mail drop-off at the Boise Library Collister branch. “It’s eating my hand!” she shrieked. Sami Edge/Idaho Education News

After the library, rising eighth grader Isha moderated a panel with Lisa Sterling, a Boise English Language Development teacher, and Herve Mashindora, refugee liaison for Central District Health, asking questions written by students in the summer program.

“How can I express to my teacher that I need help?” Isha asked. “What should my priorities be?” “What is a way I can ask a question (in class) without feeling embarrassed?”

“Try your best, and maybe your progress looks different than someone else in your class, but don’t give up… Your learning is what you have control over,” Sterling told the kids. “And find one adult at your school that you trust.”

Most summers, the Idaho Office for Refugees encourages local students to participate in city programs, or summer camps offered through the YMCA, said Christina Bruce-Bennion, service program manager for the IOR. This year’s summer camp grew out of a tutoring program hosted for refugee students and English language learners at Boise’s Collister United Methodist Church during the height of the pandemic. IOR, The International Rescue Committee and community partners including Glocal, The Agency for New Americans, Library at Collister and Bryt partnered to offer the once-a week summer programming for kids, at a space provided by the church. Through the summer students have learned to paddle-board, set up tents, worked on art projects, had discussions on human rights and more. The program wraps up next week.

Department of Education sponsors college and career readiness summit

Registration is open for the Idaho College and Career Summit, which will be held from Sept. 29 to Oct. 8. The event, which is sponsored by the State Department of Education’s Advanced Opportunities and GEAR UP Idaho Programs, is an opportunity for professional development, networking and collaboration for college access professionals, like school administrators, counselors, college and career coordinators, and student support staff, a news release from the SDE states.

Keynote speakers for the summit include:

  • Heather Malin, Stanford Center on Adolescence director of research
  • JP Michel, SparkPath founder
  • Kyle Reyes, Utah Valley University vice president of student affairs

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 conference will be held virtually. More information on the event is available here.

Nominations are open for LifeChanger of the Year award

The National Life Group is now accepting nominations for the LifeChanger of the Year, an annual program that recognizes K-12 educators and other school staff.

“The program celebrates those who are making a significant difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership,” a news release from the State Department of Education reads. The nominations, which can include anyone working for the school district, can be made from any district patron, including students with a parent’s permission.

LifeChanger awardees (out of 15 total) will win cash prizes for themselves and their school. The Grand Prize Winner will earn $10,000 split evenly between themself and their school or district. There will be four grand prize finalists and 10 LifeChanger awardees named as well.

The nomination link, including more information on the program, is available here.

Bluum to host leadership development workshop

In order to help prepare for the 2021-2022 school year, Bluum will be hosting a workshop in August to introduce school leadership to a new practice that can help guide them through the new school year.

The workshop will be introducing the 5-square approach from the Noble Story Group, which “operationalizes the concepts of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management from Goleman’s (1995) work on emotional intelligence—and is grounded in personal values” a news release from Bluum states. The release adds that the 5-square approach will help address mental health needs of both students and staff members.

The workshop is titled “How to Lean in Uncertain and Stressful Times” and will be held on Aug. 16 starting at 9 a.m. There is no charge to attend the event and it can be attended both in person and virtually.

More information on the event, including the registration link, is available here.

48 Idaho libraries receive ARPA grant money

On July 19, the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) announces the award of $1.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to Idaho libraries. In total, 48 libraries were selected, out of more than 850 libraries statewide.

Several of the libraries selected were part of Idaho schools, including:

  • Hagerman Elementary School Library, Hagerman Joint School District
  • Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind
  • Jefferson Joint School District
  • Farnsworth Middle School Library, Jefferson School District
  • Roberts Elementary School Library, Jefferson School District
  • Madison Junior/Senior High School Library
  • Murtaugh School Library
  • Richfield School Library
  • Tigert Middle School Library, Soda Springs School District
  • University of Idaho Library

According to the ICfL, many of the libraries plan to use their grant funding for technology, including upgrading or purchasing computers, software, devices and hotspots. Some libraries also requested the funds for the purchase of a vehicle to enable staff to bring library materials and services out to communities.

Funding awards to help address learning loss

On Thursday afternoon, the Idaho Out-of-School Network (ION) announced $400,000 in funding awards to youth programs addressing the academic, social and emotional learning needs of students.

The Idaho Community Program for Youth awards were made to organizations in Idaho so they can expand high-quality summer programs and after-school learning.

The awardees also receive training and support from ION, including attendance to the Power Up Summit in Boise, which runs from Sept. 7-9.

About Sami Edge

Reporter Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a 2019 Education Writers Association fellow reporting on Latino student outcomes in Idaho. She also is a 2019 American Press Institute fellow. She can be reached at [email protected].

Read more stories by Sami Edge »

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