Idaho Education Association’s Champion of Education award recognizes those who make special and unique contributions to the cause of public education through their work over an extended period of time, but particularly within the last year.


Representative Julie Yamamoto

Nominated by: Alicia Purdy

House Education Committee Chairwoman Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell) delivers a rousing pro-public education speech to IEA members at Lobby Day Dinner during IEA’s Lobby Day 2023. She is the 2023 recipient of IEA’s Champion of Education Award.


Idaho Rep. Julie Yamamoto of Caldwell is among public education’s staunchest advocates in the Idaho Legislature.

In her role as chairwoman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Yamamoto’s long career as educator guides her leadership in creating education policy that impacts every public school classroom, every educator and every student in the state. An strong ally of Idaho Education Association members, she believes public education is a public good and advocates for educators by working to give them the tools and resources they need do their job. She adamantly opposes policies she believes will hurt students and public schools, like vouchers.

Chairwoman Yamamoto “has opened her office to educators and actively listens to our concerns. Julie does what she believes is in the best interest of all patrons, catering to no single influence,” wrote Vallivue Education Association President Alicia Purdy in her nomination of Yamamoto for IEA’s Champion of Education Award.

Chairwoman Yamamoto was easily re-elected to a second House term in November by more than 70 percent of the voters in her Caldwell-area district in her native Canyon County. She’s served on the House Education Committee since first being elected in 2020 and she has a reputation as a straight-shooting collaborator among policymakers. She takes pride in building consensus around education issues.

She graduated from Vallivue High School, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of Idaho. Her doctorate in Education comes from the University of Idaho.

She knew from an early age that she would be a teacher and she greatly enjoyed teaching first and seventh grade before becoming a school administrator.

She was the planning principal and first principal at the new Caldwell High School and Vallivue’s Ridgevue High School. She also assisted with the building of Thomas Jefferson Charter School in Caldwell, served as its first administrator and now serves on its board.

In a news article about her ascension as chairwoman of the Education Committee, she said: “I choose to believe that we can find common ground if we truly say that we want what is best for the children of Idaho and for Idahoans.”

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