Friday, April 29, 2011

President Honors Outstanding Math and Science Teachers

Two Idaho teachers are the recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Holly Dee Archuleta, a math teacher in Meridian, and Vana Richards, a science teacher in Emmett, are among just 85 math and science teachers to receive the award this year and will travel to Washington, D.C. later this year to accept their awards.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level.  Each year the award alternates between teachers teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades.  The 2010 awardees named today teach kindergarten through 6th grade.

Winners of this Presidential honor receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion. They also receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Administration.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Superintendent Luna Asks Idahoans to Apply for Technology Task Force

The State Department of Education is now accepting applications and nominations for anyone interested in serving on the Students Come First Technology Task Force, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

Under Senate Bill 1184, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to convene a task force to help in implementing the technology components of the Students Come First law.  Specifically, the task force will study and develop plans for the one-to-one ratio of mobile computing devices in high schools. Once the State Board of Education determines the number of online courses to graduate, the task force also will develop implementation plans for the requirement, in addition to other topics determined by the task force chairman. The Superintendent of Public Instruction will chair the task force.

“We are looking for people with an open mind and background in educational technology to help us in making these new instructional technologies a success for Idaho students and teachers,” Superintendent Luna said. “This will not be an easy task over the next year, but I know we have the talent and capability right here in Idaho to accomplish it.”

The task force will be made up of at least 28 members, 17 of whom the Superintendent will appoint. The others will be appointed by the Legislature, Office of the Governor and education stakeholder groups. 

The task force will report its findings, plans and recommendations to the House and Senate Education Committees by no later than January 31, 2012.

Here is a list of the positions the Superintendent of Public Instruction will appoint:
  • 4 school district superintendents
  • 2 district technology directors
  • 2 secondary school principals
  • 1 district business manager
  • 1 head of a virtual public charter school
  • 1 head of a traditional public charter school that serves grades 9-12
  • 2 secondary classroom teachers
  • 1 private sector education technology expert who is neither employed by, represents, nor is an agent of any entity that provides online courses or mobile computing devices
  • 3 representatives of the business community
The remaining task force members will include a representative of the Office of the Governor, two members of the Idaho House, two members of the Idaho Senate, and a representative of each of the educational stakeholder groups: Idaho Education Association, Northwest Professional Educators, Idaho School Boards Association, Idaho Association of School Administrators, Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence, and Idaho Digital Learning Academy.

If you are interested in serving on the Students Come First Technology Task Force, please apply by submitting a resume and cover letter, explaining which position you are applying for and why you want to serve on the task force. You may also submit a nomination if you know someone who should serve on the task force.  Visit the Students Come First website for more details on how to apply.

The deadline to apply is Friday, May 13, 2011. The State Department of Education will announce members of the task force by the end of May.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Former Academic and Decorated Naval Aviator Named to State Board of Education

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has appointed William H. Goesling of Moscow, a former Naval aviator and educator and retired financial consultant, to the State Board of Education.

Goesling fills a vacancy on the eight-member board left by the March 1 expiration of Moscow attorney Paul Agidius’s term. He has served on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission since 2004 and joins the Board of Education for its meeting on Wednesday in Moscow.

“It’s a pleasure to have such a highly qualified candidate so close at hand,” Governor Otter said. “His academic and professional experience, along with his involvement in education ranging from the Moscow School Board to the Charter School Commission, makes him an ideal choice to fill the rather large shoes left by Paul Agidius on the State Board.”

Goesling received the Distinguished Flying Cross, ten individual and unit Air Medals and a Navy Commendation Medal for his heroism as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Montana, master’s degrees in applied science and management from the Naval Postgraduate School, and his doctorate in education at the University of Idaho. He also was curriculum officer at the Naval Postgraduate School, taught high school math and science, and was a Naval and civilian ground and flight instructor.

In addition, Goesling was a faculty member at the University of Idaho and, before retiring, was an associate vice president and financial consultant for D.A. Davidson & Co.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Exceptional Science Teachers Recognized with GIANTS Award

Lieutenant Governor Brad Little – standing in for Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter – recognized the outstanding efforts of four Idaho science teachers today by presenting them with the 2011 GIANTS Award.

Kuna High School teacher DaNel Huggins; Dennis Kimberling of Lakeland Junior High School (Rathdrum); H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School (Shelley) and Canyon Elementary Science Magnet School (Cataldo) teacher Susan Hansen-Barber were awarded $2,000 each as recipients of the Governor’s Industry Award for Notable Teaching in Science (GIANTS).

 “DaNel, Dennis, Mike, and Susan exemplify the innovation and initiative necessary to advance science and technology instruction for Idaho students,” Governor Otter said in a statement prepared for the award ceremony in his Capitol office. “They have shown how providing educational opportunities that connect their students with real-world applications can inspire students to lives spent in discovery, learning, and achievement We thank these outstanding educators for helping to prepare today’s students for the 21st century workforce.”

The GIANTS program was initiated by the Office of the Governor and is sponsored by the Science and Technology Roundtable, a group of industry leaders including the Micron Foundation, Idaho National Laboratory, URS, Hewlett-Packard, LCF Enterprises, and Idaho Power Company. With support from the State Department of Education and Office of the State Board of Education, as well as the Discovery Center of Idaho, GIANTS recognizes teachers for their efforts to link industry and the economic future of Idaho to the classroom through the enhancement of science and technology education.

Honorable Mention awards of $500 each were presented to two additional teachers: Steven Braun of Troy High School and Hayden Meadows Elementary teacher Mark Luhnow.

All the participating teachers were nominated by the student council and/or parent groups at their school for making science exciting, challenging, and relevant. A cash prize of $500 goes to each school/student council that nominated the GIANTS award recipients, with a cash prize of $100 going to each school/student council that nominated the Honorable Mention award recipients.

The GIANTS partners are firmly committed to the advancement of science and technology education and consider it vital to Idaho’s economic future. The Governor and the industry partners congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their significant contributions to education.

Here is more information on each of the award recipients:

Elementary School GIANTS Awardee:
The 2011 elementary school winner is Sue Hansen-Barber of Canyon Elementary Science Magnet School in Cataldo.  Ms. Hansen-Barber has been teaching for 27 years and currently teaches 4th and 5th graders at Canyon Elementary, while also serving as the principal.

In addition to a variety of guest speakers and fieldtrips, Ms. Hansen-Barber engages her students in hands-on learning through Science Fridays where all students move in groups, across grade levels to various hands-on activities where science is the main topic and integrated with other subjects.

In another ongoing collaborative program, she has partnered with an area Noxious Weed Management council for Canyon students to complete real field research on noxious weeds and report their findings back to the council.  In their letter of nomination, the Canyon Student Council noted, “She gives us challenges and not just the answers, so we learn how to do it on our own.”

Middle School GIANTS Awardees:
The GIANTS Middle School Awardees are Dennis Kimberling of Lakeland Jr. High (Rathdrum) and H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School (Shelley).

In Mr. Kimberling’s 24 years as a teacher he has provided science education, real world connections, and leadership, particularly within the gifted and talented program in his region. He has extended his leadership beyond the classroom with student organizations, middle and high school robotics teams, and high school science bowl teams.

In addition to the many field trips and FIRST robotics competitions lead by Mr. Kimberling, he is also closely connected with the North Idaho Discovery Association.  Through NIDA he works directly with students in camps, classrooms and provides robotics workshops throughout the summer for both students and teachers.

In nominating Mr. Kimberling, his student leadership team noted, “Mr. Kimberling uses many techniques and does many things that inspire students to want to learn more in-depth things about various fields in science such as electricity, pyrotechnics, electrical engineering, even working with robotics and hydrogen powered technology!”

The co-awardee for the Middle School GIANTS Award is H. Michael Winston of Hobbs Middle School in Shelley. Mike has spent the past 30 years teaching a variety of science courses to a variety of students. He currently teaches science to gifted and talented students, 2nd -8th grades.

He has been very successful in developing community partnerships with business and industry experts. Projects include working with Lava Hot Springs to research if they could effectively use waste geo-thermal waters to raise tropical fish, resulting in the students overseeing the construction of test ponds, placing fish, and presenting the results after a year of research.  The Hobbs Middle School Student Council noted, “A lot of Mr. Winston’s students decide to take lots of science classes, but one of the neat things is that many students have started their own businesses.”

As a board member for the Idaho Education Alliance for Solutions, Mr. Winston has also been working on the development of a 20-acre educational facility known as the Bingham County Education Park to provide a facility and curriculum materials for area teachers, students, and families to enhance science education.

High School GIANTS Awardee:
The GIANTS High School Awardee is DaNel Huggins of Kuna High School. Ms. Huggins is the science chair at her school and teaches a wide variety of physics and chemistry classes, as well as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research course.

Ms. Huggins has inspired students both inside and outside of the classroom in programs such as FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, Team America Rocketry Competition, BSU Discover Engineering Day, Science Olympiad, INL Scholastic Tournament, Physics Day at Lagoon, and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell car races.

She works with universities as well as local companies to connect her students directly to the front lines of science. In her nomination letter, Principal Karla Reynolds said, “DaNel’s passion for her subject encompasses say more than just the classroom experience.  She encourages and supports students to compete in national science competitions, seeks opportunities for students to get to listen to and meet world renowned scientists as well as gives up her weekends to work with students on rocketing competitions and science day volunteering at local universities.”

Ms. Huggins also stands out as a leader at the state level, serving on the governing committee of the i-STEM teacher professional development initiative, helping create Idaho’s first STEM competition this year, and providing presentations and teacher workshops throughout Idaho and across the country through the National Energy Education Development Project.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Students Come First Reforms Become Law

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter today signed into law Senate Bill 1184, the final piece in the Students Come First reform package. 

Here is a statement from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna after the bill signing:

“This is a historic day for Idaho’s students and parents across our great state. By spending what we currently have differently, we will reform our public education system to invest in Idaho’s great teachers, create the 21st century classroom and put our students first,” Superintendent Luna said. “Now, the hard work begins as we implement this plan and ensure all Idaho students – no matter where they live – graduate from high school prepared for the world that awaits them.”

~ Melissa M.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Governor, Superintendent Applaud Passage of Final Students Come First Bill

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna – along with House Education Chairman Bob Nonini – issued the following statements today in response to the 44-26 Idaho House of Representatives vote giving final legislative approval to Senate Bill 1184 – the last of three bills included in the “Students Come First” package of public school reforms. The Governor previously signed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law.

Governor Otter said: “Reform is never easy. But in this case – as I and many others have been saying for years – it was necessary and appropriate. And we did it right. I’m grateful to members of the Education Alliance of Idaho and the Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence for the inspiration and long, thoughtful work that laid the foundation for this achievement. My thanks also go to Education Committee Chairmen Goedde and Nonini, under whose leadership this legislation underwent extraordinarily thorough public and legislative vetting. The result reflects the courage, commitment and civic virtue of our citizen legislators and the value that Idahoans place on the future of our public school students. I look forward to working closely with Superintendent Luna and all stakeholders to ensure that ‘Students Come First’ becomes not only a reality but a success in classrooms throughout our state.” 

Superintendent Luna said: “This is a historic moment for the students and parents of Idaho. I commend members of the House for their foresight and courage in reforming our classrooms into 21st century classrooms. This bill will provide Idaho teachers with the tools they need to ensure every student graduates from high school prepared for the world that awaits them.”

Chairman Nonini said: “I'm happy to be part of the team with the Governor, the Superintendent, and the good chairman of Senate Education to accomplish this great work done over the past few months. The children of Idaho are the real winners today.”

15 Schools Receive Grants to Grow School Gardens

The Idaho State Department of Education is awarding $30,000 to help 15 schools across Idaho build school gardens, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced. Each school will receive a grant of $2,000 to build a garden to promote nutrition, science and agricultural education.

“Through these grants, Idaho students will be able to roll up their sleeves and learn valuable, hands-on lessons about nutrition, math, science and many other subject areas,” Superintendent Luna said.

With this grant funding, schools will implement a wide range of innovative educational activities, from outdoor classrooms to service-learning projects. The schools receiving grants range from public schools, private schools, and even the alternative high school that is part of Southwest Juvenile Detention Center.

The grants are funded through the State Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs Team Nutrition grant so nutrition education must be a part of every school garden plan. Since school cafeterias are allowed to serve food grown in school gardens to students, the schools are encouraged to partner with their school foodservice personnel on these projects.

The State Department of Education will work with these schools throughout the year to create a best practices guide that other Idaho schools can use in future years if they want to incorporate a successful gardening program into the school curriculum.

The following is a list of the 15 schools receiving school garden grants this year:

  • Arco Elementary School, Butte County Joint School District
  • Barbara Morgan Elementary School, McCall-Donnelly School District 
  • Boise High School, Boise School District
  • Challis Elementary/Junior/Senior High School, Challis School District
  • Clearwater Valley Elementary, Mountain View School District 
  • Dietrich Elementary/High School, Dietrich School District
  • Greenleaf Friends Academy, Private School, Greenleaf
  • Harrison Elementary School, Kootenai School District 
  • Lillian Vallely School, Private School, Fort Hall Indian Reservation  
  • Meadows Valley School, Meadows Valley School District
  • Paradise Regional High School, Moscow School District
  • Pat Anderson School, Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center
  • Skyway Elementary School, Coeur d’Alene School District
  • Troy Elementary School, Troy School District 
  • Willow Creek Elementary School, Nampa School District 

Idaho awarded school garden grants to 11 schools in 2008, and these schools have seen great success as a result.

~ Melissa M.