Former Idaho Education Association President Monica Beaudoin died October 31, 2020, in Sandpoint at the age of 83. To say that Monica was a pillar of the education community would be a vast understatement, and her fingerprints remain on the IEA and on our public education system decades later.
Monica grew up in North Dakota and graduated from Dickenson State University. She taught in North Dakota, Wyoming, and Oregon before finding her permanent home in Sandpoint in 1965, settling in North Idaho with her husband, Ken. She taught physical education and social studies and influenced the lives of many students in the Lake Pend Oreille school district. However, she wanted to make a difference on a broader scale.
While still a teacher, she successfully ran for the Idaho House of Representatives, serving two terms. Monica gave up her seat in the legislature when she was elected President of the Idaho Education Association. She served as IEA President for four years, from 1994-1997, and left an indelible mark on the Association and educators throughout the state. “Monica was a strong voice for workers and proudly represented her constituents from North Idaho,” says former IEA President and Executive Director Robin Nettinga.
Monica championed many causes and projects during her time as IEA President. Among the most noteworthy were:
- Led the creation of the IEA’s Visions of Change document, which contained 10 recommendations for the future of public education in the state based on the everyday experiences of classroom educators.
- Instrumental in launching the IEA Children’s Fund, which has collected nearly $1.5 million in donations from IEA members that have been passed on to children and families in need. The IEA Children’s Fund helps provide winter coats and other clothes, eyeglasses, medical services, food, and other necessities to make sure students have the basics needed to be successful in and out of the classroom.
- Helped the IEA establish an Inclusion Task Force to help educators and school districts integrate students with special needs into the regular classroom.
“Everyone knew whose side Monica was on—ours,” says Jim Shackelford, who was the IEA Executive Director during Beaudoin’s term as President. “She never hesitated to lead the fight for Idaho’s public schools and professional educators. She gave her best on behalf of all of us. We will miss her, but we, and our Association, will forever be better because of her.”
After her term as IEA President, Monica remained very active in the Association. She served on both the IEA and NEA Board of Directors for many years as a retired representative. She and Ken spent much of their retirement camping, particularly as members of the Rainbow Chasers Camping Club.
Monica spent her entire life advocating for children and public education, and her contributions will long be remembered. “When Monica spoke, we all listened,” says former IEA President Sherri Wood. “She was tough, strong, outspoken, and passionate.”
Shackelford also remembers that tough side of Monica, calling her a “formidable advocate” for teachers, ESPs, and students. But he also recalls a softer side. “I watched Monica tear up on many occasions when she was in the presence of Idaho’s public school students,” he says. “Her public presence, which was formidable, gave way to reveal a kind and soft heart when she witnessed students succeed and grow.”