The Idaho Education Association’s Friend of Education Award is the highest honor bestowed upon any individual or group each year. This award recognizes and pays tribute to recipients who have gone considerably beyond the normal expectations to support public education.
This year we honor the Panhandle Alliance for Education. Formed in 2002 by a group of citizens concerned about their schools in Bonner County, the Panhandle Alliance established a mission to promote excellence in public education and community support for the Lake Pend Oreille School District.
Over the years, the Alliance has made a significant impact on student achievement by directly supporting creative teaching opportunities and curricular initiatives.
Creative teaching requires excellent teachers and resources to support those efforts. Through the Alliance grant program, staff members have received more than $750,000 in innovative teacher grants in addition to approximately $400,000 for an intensive reading initiative.
This past year alone, the Alliance provided $125,000 for after-school tutoring, robotics, Academic Decathlon, dance instruction, and steel drum band.
This spring, the Alliance expects to award as much as $125,000 for grants limited only by the imagination of staff. The work of the Alliance energizes teachers and students. More importantly, it sends a strong message that public education is highly valued.
The Alliance believes in providing the children in the Lake Pend Oreille School District a strong education foundation even before they enter school. The Alliance understands that a strong academic start for children will make a lifetime of difference.
That’s why they initiated and supported the research-based Ready! For Kindergarten program. Designed for parents of children from birth to five years old, this program focuses on language acquisition, mathematics, and reading. Parents receive free instructional materials, learning games, and books designed to help them be more successful as their child’s first teacher.
This program utilizes teachers from Lake Pend Oreille School District. It has served as a wonderful connection to parents whose children will be entering the district’s schools. The program has grown dramatically and now has a waiting list that transcends financial and socio-economic lines.
Teachers understand the support they receive from the Alliance is a rarity in these uncertain financial times. This partnership between the school district and the Panhandle Alliance for Education has changed children’s lives.
In nominating the Alliance for this year’s award, Tom Pagliasotti, a math teacher and Lake Pend Oreille Education Association member said, “I consider myself fortunate to live and work in a community blessed with such civic-minded individuals who prove consistently that they value children and are willing to invest in their future.”