The Coeur d’Alene school district has laid claim to the Teacher of the Year in Idaho for the third consecutive year, with IEA member Jamie Esler earning recognition for 2014. The Lake City High School science teacher receives $1,000 from the Idaho State Department of Education as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Idaho as the state’s nominee for national Teacher of the Year.
Esler admitted to being surprised by the honor and overwhelmed when the announcement was made at a school assembly. “I am honored and humbled,” he said. Especially heartwarming were the congratulations from his students and fellow teachers. “Nothing feels better than when a student offers congratulations; because I am a big believer that everything we do should be student-centered.”
In addition to his substantial teaching credentials, Esler’s philosophy and attitude enable him to stand out from the crowd. “What’s really neat is that people have a natural curiosity about science,” noted Esler in talking about his students. “Kids are more willing to express curiosity about bigger questions and pursue their own answers. I am just facilitating and guiding.”
Esler is also a strong advocate of the IEA’s mission and of proper support for public education. “The great thing about the IEA is that so many other people in the association feel the same way that I do about doing what is best for kids,” he says. “I can’t imagine being an educator without the support of the Idaho Education Association and the Coeur d’Alene Education Association.”
He also appreciates opportunities to converse and collaborate with other teachers. “It is inspiring to work with veteran teachers and mentors. I am just one of many teachers who work this hard—I am surrounded by others on a daily basis.”
Esler is in his sixth year teaching at Lake City High School. The Illinois native and graduate of Illinois State University was on the verge of moving to Alaska when the position opened up in Coeur d’Alene and he has felt at home since day one. Specializing in environmental and physical science, Esler provides his students with meaningful and engaging learning opportunities that challenge them to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the natural world around them.