Sam Cikaitoga was a teacher and association leader in Fremont County. Sam came to Idaho via the Pacific Islands, but he was a citizen of the world, understanding and celebrating the ways we are alike while downplaying our differences.  Following his death because of an automobile accident, the Sam Cikaitoga Service Award was created to acknowledge IEA ethnic minority members. 

Crystal Villanueva
Vallivue Education Association
Nominated by Kami Campbell 

Crystal Villanueva is tireless in her efforts to improve migrant education. 

A kindergarten teacher from Lakevue Elementary in the Vallivue School District, Villanueva has taught and case-managed K-5 English language development for multilingual students and early literacy reading intervention.  

“She consistently speaks up in the best interests of her students and often initiates and facilitates conversations that improve situations for kids and families. Any student with Crystal as their teacher has the greatest champion around in their corner,” wrote Villanueva’s colleagues at Lakevue Elementary, including Ken Pahlas, her principal.  

Villanueva organized a summer Migrant Student Leadership Institute for seventh and eighth graders to provide students with an opportunity to see leadership in and around their community. They visited with Caldwell police officers, traveled to the Swan Falls Hydroelectric Plantand toured local businesses at Indian Creek Plaza, among other activities.  

During each of these opportunities, students were able to network with different businesses, companies and careers to explore the endless opportunities available to them in the near future,” wrote Kami Campbell, who nominated Villanueva for the Sam Cikaitoga Service Award.  

Villanueva is also very active in the Vallivue Education Association. She was instrumental in the creation of the local’s popular Back-to-School Fair, which provides school supplies, free immunizations, sports physicals, haircuts, and uniform swaps and alterations to Vallivue students and their families.  

“She works tirelessly to improve this event each year and offer even more services for the families of students who need them,” wrote Campbell.   

Villanueva also serves as a building representative for her local, is a key recruiter of new VEA members and recently spent hours calling Spanish-speaking families in support of Vallivue School District’s recent levy election, which passed with a record number of voters.  

Additionally, she is one of 18 Idaho teachers selected as part of a two-year cohort for IEA’s Leaders for Just Schools program.  

“With no need for hyperbole, we can honestly say that any school or organization that values relationships based on respect, genuine warmth and caring, and on meeting the needs of all regardless of barriers would benefit from Crystal Villanueva’s voice and presence,” Villanueva’s Lakevue colleagues wrote. 

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