For her work building community coalitions to stand for strong Idaho schools, Maria Greeley won the Idaho Education Association’s 2012 Friend of Education Award. But Greeley chose to turn the tables and honor several significant educators in accepting the honor at the awards luncheon during Delegate Assembly in Boise on April 20.

Greeley (center in the photo at left) is co-chair of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together, the parent-led coalition that placed the 2011 education laws on the November 2012 ballot as Propositions 1, 2, and 3. She was nominated for the Friend of Education award by the Boise Education Association in recognition of her work to pass the March 2012 Boise School District levy, which wound up getting a 71 percent “yes” vote.

The Boise mother of four said that when her children were young, “I felt like a hero, responsible for all they knew.” But after they started school, Greeley added, “I remember the day the teacher got credit” for imparting knowledge. “I made me realize how significant teachers are.”

For years, Greeley had actively volunteered at Grace Jordan Elementary School, but she was not politically active. That changed in 2011 when she became alarmed at the arrogance and lack of knowledge driving the misguided education legislation passed that year.  Greeley said she felt moved to defend educators because they are our children’s heroes. She introduced Nancy Smith, who taught all four of her children; Jenny Gibbons, whose teaching skills she watched in awe as an art parent;  and school principal Tim Lowe, “who makes Grace Jordan feel like a home. Thank you all for being an inspiration and for being all of our children’s heroes.”

Others honored at the 2012 awards luncheon included:

  • Luke Franklin, winner of the Shane Anderson Outstanding Member Award, honored for his work as president of the Meridian Education Association. Franklin thanked his parents and brother “who have given me a sense of justice” and all IEA members “who chose to stay and fight when the chips were down. I dedicate this award to all of you who chose to stick with your union.”
  • Tawni Berryman-Hull, who received the Edythe Crowe Educational Support Professional Award in recognition of her work on the Meridian EA’s Organizing for Power and Living Wage campaigns. Berryman-Hull said that although times are tough for Idaho educators, the current battles might be a wake-up call “to help us remember why we are a union.”
  • Myrna Guthrie, honored with the Larry Caldwell Member Advocacy Award for her work in standing up to unfair practices at Taylor’s Crossing Public Charter School in Idaho Falls. Guthrie described herself as “a background kind of girl,” noting that It’s easy to stay on the sidelines, but when you notice injustice affecting the people you love, “it’s time to step forward.”

The Awards Committee put out an early call for people to be thinking of nominees for the awards to be given at the 2013 Delegate Assembly and for regions to form committees to submit nominations. Nine awards are available for members who have made special contributions to the cause of public education over an extended time, but especially in the coming year. Nomination forms will be sent to Region Presidents and Local Presidents in the fall, and they’ll also be available on the IEA website.  Nominations will be due early in 2013 and the Awards Committee will make its recommendations to the IEA Board of Directors in February of next year.

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