Marsha Nakamura enriched the lives of thousands of children during her 30-year career with the Nampa School District. She believed the mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, but the great teacher inspires. And Marsha inspired her students and her colleagues. She was passionate about her profession and she set high expectations for herself and others. The Marsha Nakamura Award for Teaching Excellence was established to recognize, reward and promote excellence in teaching and advocacy for the profession.

Karen Lauritzen

Post Falls Education Association

Nominated by: Peggy Hoy

2022 Idaho Teacher of the Year and IEA member Karen Lauritzen at the Statehouse in March. She is the 2023 recipient of IEA’s Marsha Nakamura Award for Teaching Excellence.

By all accounts, Idaho’s 2022-23 Teacher of the Year “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 she works with.”

A fourth grade teacher at Treaty Rock Elementary in Post Falls, Karen Lauritzen’s bona fides as an educator are unquestioned — by students, colleagues, school administrators and parents alike. And in addition to her role in the classroom and as Teacher of the Year, she serves as co-president of the Post Falls Education Association, is a member of IEA’s Government Relations Committee, is a determined campaigner for bonds, levies and pro-education candidates (Post Falls’ levy was approved by voters on March 14) and she’s a doctoral candidate at the University of Idaho.

“She is an amazing educator and advocate who has dedicated her life to her students, to public education and to our professional association,” wrote Peggy Hoy, Idaho’s National Education Association director, in her nomination of Lauritzen.

Lauritzen is known as a student of being an educator. In her classroom this year, her students are working on a local service project to help students in need, an illustration of the “value and importance of encouraging students to think critically, develop empathy, and practice academic and social skills” Lauritzen puts into her work, according to Hoy.

“Anytime Karen talks about the new and innovative ways she delivers instruction to her students, or encourages them to be strong little humans, her eyes light up,” wrote Hoy. “She cares so much about the students she works with and embraces the challenges of today’s education system. “

But perhaps Lauritzen said her best herself when making a presentation to members of the Idaho House Education Committee last month:

“I absolutely love what I do. I love being a teacher. It is the best job I could ever imagine.”

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