Idaho Teacher of the Year logo on blackboard collage

Idaho Teacher of the Year

The Idaho Teacher of the Year Program, which began in 1959, is one of the most prestigious honors in the state for teachers. The program focuses public attention on excellence in teaching that has a real impact on the students of Idaho. Peers, school personnel, parents, community members and students may nominate teachers. Many nominees come from school district-level Teacher of the Year programs throughout the state.

If you know a teacher who inspires students to achieve, innovates in the classroom, and goes beyond the call of duty to help our students persevere in life and prepare for their future, please fill out the simple nomination form below. The SDE will contact nominated teachers and invite them to apply for Teacher of the Year.


About Idaho Teacher of the Year

The Idaho Teacher of the Year (ITOY) automatically becomes the nominee for the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) Program, which is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). If the ITOY is selected as the NTOY they will be released from classroom responsibilities during the year of national recognition.

The selected candidate for ITOY will maintain a regular teaching schedule while also fulfilling the duties of the Teacher of the Year position. Some highlights of the position may include:

  • Participating in the NTOY Program as a representative of Idaho
  • Presenting to the Senate and House Education Committees in Boise during the legislative session
  • Travel across Idaho to speak with other educators, legislators, and policymakers about education in the state
  • Participating in the CCSSO NTOY Program Induction conference (approx. one week in length)
  • Participating in the NTOY Washington Recognition Week in Washington DC (approx. one week in length)
  • Participating in International Space Camp in Huntsville, AL (approx. one week in length)
  • Participating in the ECS National Forum on Education Policy – location TBD (approx. three days in length)
  • Receive a cash prize from the State

Process Timeline

Date Action
January 2023 Nomination window for the 2024 Idaho Teacher of the Year opens
March 20, 2023 Nomination window closes
March 27, 2023 Application window for the 2024 Idaho Teacher of the Year opens. *Nominated educators will be contacted by the SDE. Applications are not open to the public.
May 8, 2023 Application window closes
June – August Panel reviews applications and selects finalists
Fall Semester Announcement of the 2024 Idaho Teacher of the Year

Idaho State Teacher of the Year Selection Criteria

A candidate for Teacher of the Year:

  • Is an expert in their field who guides students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve excellence.
  • Collaborates with colleagues, students, and families to create a school culture of respect and success.
  • Deliberately connects the classroom and key stakeholders to foster a strong community at large.
  • Demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning.
  • Expresses themselves in an engaging and articulate way.

2023 Teacher of the Year - Karen Lauritzen

2023 Teacher of the Year Karen Lauritzen

Karen Lauritzen
Idaho Teacher of the Year
Treaty Rock Elementary School

Karen Lauritzen has taught at Treaty Rock Elementary School in Post Falls since 2012 and has served on the school’s behavioral leadership teams, providing focused professional development to both the school and district staff. She is a 2002 graduate of the University of Fairbanks in Alaska and went on to earn her Master of Arts in Special Education from Indiana’s Ball State University in 2018. She is currently working on the final phases of her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho.

Karen has a knack for creating deep connections with students and parents and inspiring meaningful communication both in and out of the classroom. She also takes on educational leadership roles in the community; she is the founding member of Citizens for Post Falls Schools and vice president of the Post Falls Education Association.

She believes that relationships and communication are the foundations of effective learning. Whether supporting students and colleagues or bringing her voice to the public conversation, Lauritzen’s dedication to the art of teaching has been an invaluable part of the Treaty Rock Elementary School community. Her message: “Our communities, state and nation would benefit from relationship building that starts in our humble public-school classrooms. I would be honored to lead the way!”

Congratulations Karen Lauritzen!