Photo courtesy of the Coeur d'Alene School District
Jamie Esler knew he wanted to be a teacher at the age of 17. "I fell in love with the profession of teaching and knew it was what I could happily do the rest of my life." Now, he's Idaho's 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Esler, a science teacher at Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, was named Teacher of the Year in a surprise award assembly earlier this month. Students, who caught on to the real purpose of the assembly, started chanting "We love Esler!" before his name was even announced. In a heartfelt acceptance speech, Esler had sage words of advice for his students. "We can teach 'til we're blue in the face? We can give you the best lessons we got, but ultimately your success is up to you."
Those who know Esler best know that he does give his students his best. "His energy is unmatched and knowledge base incredibly broad and deep," Matt Handelman, Superintendent of the Coeur d'Alene School District said. "This combination of passion, excitement and energy lead every student in Jamie's classes to be necessarily engaged in his lessons every day. They mirror his vigor and verve."
Part of Esler's success is his application of science concepts in the real world to reinforce what he's teaching in the classroom. For example, earlier this year Esler was selected to participate in PolarTREC, a polar research opportunity for teachers. Esler spent three weeks this summer in Iceland with a team of Artic researchers. While there, he shared his experiences with his students through online journals, message boards, photo albums, and PolarConnect real-time presentations. This continued to bring learning to life for every child in his classroom throughout the summer months.
"I am honored Jamie Esler will be representing the State of Idaho as our state's nominee for National Teacher of the Year," Superintendent Luna said. "Even though he is young in his career, Esler has been recognized as an outstanding teacher because he strives every day to make sure his students are not only learning about science but learning how to apply those concepts in the real world."
Esler will receive $1,000 from the Idaho State Department of Education, an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., and go on to represent Idaho as a nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.
Every year, school districts and charter schools across Idaho have the opportunity to nominate one teacher for the Idaho Teacher of the Year. A state selection committee representing teachers, education leaders, parents and legislators from across the state select the Idaho Teacher of the Year from among the nominations. To learn more about the Idaho Teacher of the Year program, visit http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/teacher_of_year/.