This month, Idaho's Milken Educator, Katie Graupman, and Idaho's Teacher of the Year, Jamie Esler, presented to the House and Senate Education Committees.
Graupman, who has taught English and journalism at Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake for the last 13 years, told the committee she wanted to become a teacher because of the example her mother, a special education teacher, set. Many people tried to discourage Graupman from the profession, she told legislators, and she still hears the same things today. She told legislators that they need to support the Task Force for Improving Education recommendations that will help attract more high-quality educators into Idaho schools.
Graupman voiced her support for the following recommendations:
"I believe that, if enacted and properly funded, these task force recommendations have the ability to positively and permanently impact the students of Idaho," Graupman told the committee.
Jamie Esler, Idaho's 2014 Teacher of the Year, also mentioned support for some of the Task Force for Improving Education recommendations in his presentation.
Esler is deeply involved in the University of Idaho's Waters of the West Confluence Project, which brings partner organizations together to teach students in a hands-on environment about water resources. As part of the Confluence Project, students share their experience with other students through the Idaho Education Network. "I would like to express my sincere gratitude and support for the
Idaho Education Network," Esler told the committee. "It has been a fundamental component of the success of The Confluence Project."
The Idaho Education Network is the state's high-speed broadband intranet that connects all Idaho high schools and public colleges and universities together, in part fulfilling the Task Force for Improving Education's recommendation of a high-speed bandwidth wireless infrastructure to support equal access and opportunity for all schools.
Esler also made a pitch for the restoration of operational funding to Idaho's schools so that innovative projects, like the Confluence Project, could be offered to students without the disparity that comes with grant writing. He explained that this Project and similar efforts used to be funded through building-level funds, yet those have no longer been available since the recession. He encouraged legislators to restore those funds.
"We are currently poised with the necessary tools that we need to work together to improve the public education system in Idaho. I strongly suggest that we begin these improvements by restoring and reinvesting funding into operational funds," Esler pleaded.
Both Graupman and Esler received positive comments from the members of the House and Senate Education Committees and other policymakers.
"These teachers have not only been recognized by the state. They are recognized every day by their students and their colleagues as leaders, innovators and examples of highly effective teachers in the classroom," Superintendent Luna said. "I am excited they were here today to share some of their experiences in the classroom."