Humanities group honors Meridian teachers

The Idaho Humanities Council didn’t have to leave Meridian to find out teachers Heide Fry and Cindy Wilson do what they do better than anyone else.

After considering 40 educators nominated across the state, the IHC awarded Fry and Wilson the “Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities” Awards.

Wilson teaches government and civics classes at Centennial High School, while Fry teaches history and writes curriculum at Siena Elementary School.

The council presents two of the teaching awards every two years, recognizing outstanding teachers who have a “passion for humanities” and “inspire students through the love of their subject.”

In order to be considered, teachers must be nominated by a parent, citizen, fellow teacher or administrator.

The IHC screened this year’s 40 nominees for excelling at teaching the humanities ­– which include literature, philosophy, law, cultural anthropology and other subjects.  Winners each receive two $1,000 checks ­­– one for themselves and one for the school they work at.

Cindy Wilson

Former U.S. Attorney Betty Richardson nominated Wilson, who has previously been named Idaho Human Rights Educator of the Year.

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Richardson praised Wilson for applying lessons into real world applications through Wilson’s citizenship class, a political action club forum and her Youth Legislature program.

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Cindy Wilson, left, receives the outstanding teaching award from the IHC Board member Beret Norman.

“CNN could take a lesson from the forum,” Richardson said. “The students were so professional and so well organized and fair.”

Richardson also said Wilson initially asked to decline her nomination because she wanted her students to be the focus of any attention.

Wilson’s students played a large role in the ceremony when dozens stayed after school for her ceremony and hung posters that read: “Congratulations Mrs. Wilson we love you!”

Student body president Treyvion Foster, who has taken three of Wilson’s classes, said his teacher fostered a diverse classroom discussion and inspired him to research different world religions and perspectives.

“We were able to learn things from each other and about each other we probably never thought about discussing in a classroom environment,” Foster said. “It forced (students) to get of out of their comfort zone so they could experience things they never would have before.”

Heide Fry

Fry’s colleagues praised her for launching “We the People Simulated Congressional Hearing Program,” which about half of the district’s classrooms have adopted as a teaching tool.

Meridian Joint School District social studies coordinator Lori Gash said Fry invests a lot of personal time in developing initiatives and fighting to keep programs alive when funding dries up.

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Heide Fry receives the award from IHC executive director Rick Ardinger

“Heide has played an integral role in growing and developing programs in the district,” Gash said. “She also has taken it upon herself to train her peers and colleagues and she is a passionate advocate for funding.”

Fifth grade teacher Kendra Wisenbaker said Fry serves as a role model to other teachers and is known for developing analytical thinking skills in her students

“She inspires me every day with her dedication to her students,” Wisenbaker said. “With Heide there is no half doing of anything, and what Heide creates with her students is simply magic.”

In accepting the award, Fry said her favorite time of the year is when she teaches fifth graders about the Constitution and works with them to become informed citizens.

“Putting that knowledge to use and seeing students becoming just amazing, good citizens – that is the best part of teaching the humanities,” Fry said.