2022’s Outstanding Education Advocates Recognized at DA

Each year, IEA members recognize colleagues and others for their “above and beyond” work as educators and advocates for public education.

This year, 17 people were recognized with one of the several awards during the 2022 Delegate Assembly’s award ceremony on Saturday. Here’s a rundown of each award and its 2022 recipient.

2022 Friend of Education Award – IEA’s most prestigious award given to non-educators person or persons who have made a special and unique contribution to the cause of education over an extended period of time and particularly in the last year.

Glen Riley — Engineering Manager with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and a volunteer for Lewiston High School Engineering and Robotics Program

Mr. Riley provides an integral connection between industry and education in the community. When we think about 21st century schools providing students with 21st century skills, that includes making partnerships, working together, and giving back to the community. On average, Mr. Riley spends 108 hours within the engineering classroom and lab each school year. He edits students’ resumes, delivers guest lectures, and models the core values necessary for students to be successful in school, work, and life. He is a mentor, collaborator, coordinator, advisor, tutor, trainer, colleague, and so much more.

Greg Wilson — former Senior Education Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor

Mr. Wilson has been an outstanding advocate for students and educators of Idaho.  Following the 2018 Republican primary election, Mr. Wilson reached out to the IEA to discuss our legislative priorities and how we could partner with the Governor’s office to advance our collective interests. His work with the governor’s office helped to bring all education stakeholders to the table and make sure all voices were heard. When the Our Kids, Idaho’s Future Task Force was developed, Mr. Wilson met with IEA leadership for input on the committee’s fundamental issues. Our issues were front and center for the committee to address, and the outcomes led to significant investments in veteran teacher compensation. The IEA has never enjoyed such a close and professional relationship with any Governor’s office, and it was made possible because Mr. Wilson understood our values and interests. He insured our interests were aligned with Governor Little’s. He did not allow partisan bickering, negative public opinion of unions, or other barriers to stand in the way of partnering with the IEA.

Betty Roper Public Relations Award — Given to an IEA local or region making a special and unique contribution to IEA communications and public relations over an extended period of time and particularly in the last year

West Ada Education Association Communications Team

During a 2017 strategic planning session WAEA identified the need to have a strong communications structure for their local.  Their initial work included branding and logo development as well as weekly updates.  The goal expanded to include social media. This was a critical component in activating members around levy campaigns, COVID information and response, and other association activities. The impact to the association has been to increase membership, build the base of informed members, expand the number of engaged members, and encourage more members to seek involvement in leadership positions/opportunities. Most importantly, members can now answer, “What does the union do?”

Membership Recruiter of the Year — presented to a member annually who has exhibited leadership skills in the area of membership recruitment and retention

Kootenai County Education Association

The Kootenai County EA went from 7% to 57% of its teachers being IEA members, which has given the KCEA national recognition for their efforts in increasing the power of a collective voice. For the first time in seven years this amazing group of advocates were able to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that includes a defined workday and daily prep time for educators, as well as additional advancement on the salary schedule for their education credits — all outcomes that will be celebrated for years. The KCEA is a perfect example of how using a collective voice improves the quality of a work environment which will have a positive effect on student achievement and in showing the value of a collective voice.

Sue Hovey Mentoring Award — Given annually to a current IEA member who has formally or informally mentored new or struggling colleagues

Michelle Sakota

Michelle is a past president of Idaho Fall Education Association who understands the importance of growing and developing future leaders within the association. She is known for always having a positive attitude and encourages and empowers our members to help and lead IEA with their voices and work.  She puts the good of IEA first, empowers others to become leaders, and encourages discussion and problem solving. Michelle is a strong leader, an empowering mentor, and amazing association member.

Larry Caldwell Advocacy Award — Given annually to an IEA member or past member, group of members, or local Association who has confronted extraordinary challenges to assuring their students, their school, their colleagues, their profession, or they as an individual(s) are treated fairly and justly and who has acted courageously and with undaunted spirit in the face of those challenges

 Christopher Farnes

When students approached Christopher about being an advisor for a newly created Gay-Straight Alliance club he advocated hard for its creation, as administration had a number of reasons why the GSA need not exist. This entailed pushing back against the system and administrators, putting him a vulnerable position and unfamiliar territory. The creation of the club led to some ugly displays of bigoted behavior by some in the student body, but Christopher pressed on with his students whom he always encourages, loves, and provides a safe space. He found himself multiple times having to confront administrators over their handling of discipline for bullies of the LGBTQIA students. Christopher spent a lot of time researching Title IX in order to understand LGBTQ+ students’ rights when advocating for them. He does his best to be as diplomatic and personable as possible as he explains to administrators, parents, or other students, what those rights are and why we are legally bound to uphold them. Christopher is persistent but is cognizant of what it takes to make consistent progress in a community in Idaho.

Shane Anderson Outstanding Member Award — Given in honor IEA members with a commitment and passion for public education and the work of the Idaho Education Association

Jamie Morton

Jamie serves as an officer in her local, the president of her region, serves as the Chair of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and is a trainer and participant of the NEA Leaders for Just Schools Program. Jamie has served on other statewide committees including the Human and Civil Rights committee. She has also worked closely with the Wassmuth Center in Boise in various capacities. Through her passion for education, she has represented the state of Idaho at the National Level at various equity conferences, and she continues to help develop equity trainings for the IEA with the Human Civil Rights Committee. Jamie is also a facilitator for NEA Leaders for Just Schools. She continues to create new trainings for the CTL, and has brought a business item to Delegate Assembly in 2021 to honor the native lands we live on. She is always ready to stand and fight for what is right for our students and our educators.

Monica Beaudoin Retired Award — Honors a retired IEA member who continues to be active in retirement and makes significant contributions to the IEA Retired Organization

Jan Studer

Jan is the first Monica Beaudoin Retired Award honoree and a member of the North Idaho Education Association Retired Chapter. She is actively involved in the North Idaho retired chapter. She consistently fosters positive collaboration between chapter members, current educators, community groups, political leaders and lawmakers. She excels in public relations and has formed many active partnerships, alliances and connections in our community and throughout the state. As an active member with the Kootenai County Democratic Committee, Jan shares her knowledge and expertise on current political, legislative and education issues with NIEARC at our meetings. As a leader within the community, she continually works on adjusting others’ views of the importance of a quality education for all Idaho students and spearheads any occasion where NIEARC members can actively be involved in that support. Jan was an IEA delegate for most of her career and has served as a retired delegate. When not actively serving as a retired delegate, she has shared her time during IEA DA, helping cover the NIEARC table and spread the word of the importance of continuing involvement with the IEA retired program by recruiting members to sign-up for the NEA/IEA pre-retired program.

Marsha Nakamura Teaching Excellence Award — Goes to a certified member who recognizes, rewards, and promotes excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.  IEA’s Nakamura honoree is IEA’s nomination for the NEA Award for Teaching Excellence. The award winner also becomes Idaho’s nominee for the NEA Foundation’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Todd Knight

The characteristics of the award describes Todd’s passion for our profession and the students he works with on a daily basis. He exemplifies advocacy for the profession, understands the importance of community engagement and the value of being an educator, mentor, and role model for the students he works with every day. Academic success is very important for Mr. Knight. Working with alternative students, setting learning goals is a priority, not only for himself but for the students he teaches. Todd is not afraid to advocate for best practices and for what is best for students in his school. He believes strongly that while it is important to hold teachers and students accountable for learning, more emphasis must be placed on student growth. He has advocated in his building to focus on their growth, so the students see that their hard work pays off, even if they are somewhat behind their grade level peers. The motivation that Todd creates within the school carries over to his students having a positive presence in the community. Todd is adamant that he not only teaches science, but he teaches critical skills that his students will use in their own lives. He works closely with Boise State and brings his students to participate in an Aerospace Day where middle school students can get firsthand experience at a college. This is so important for students at an alternative school to see the value of exploring options outside the four walls of a school. He also created an advisory class called the “TechWhisperers” where he works with a group of students to handle minor technology problems. When teachers in his district have a challenge with technology his students problem solve and work together to fix it. Marsha Nakamura was a profound educator who accepted nothing but the best from her profession. The very same is true about Todd Knight.

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