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David Jones, 2020 Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching recipient

David Jones
David Jones, one of four teachers recognized this year with the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching.

Boise State University’s College of Education and the Lee Pesky Learning Center will continue the annual tradition of honoring inspirational K-12 teachers at Boise State’s virtual winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 19. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching.

David Jones, a visual arts teacher at Kuna High School is one of the four recipients this year. Jones was nominated by his former student and Boise State teacher education senior Rylee Newman. Each recipient was surprised in their classroom by their principal and presented with a plaque. A video of the surprises will be played at Boise State’s virtual commencement ceremony December 19. Each teacher received $2,000 and their respective schools received $500.

Former student and nominator Rylee Newman developed a love for art in David Jones’ art classes at Kuna High School during a tough time.

“I would get to dive into my heart (in his class) and I always felt inspired and safe” said Newman. “Mr. Jones opened up his classroom to me during my free time and I was even his teaching assistant for a few semesters.”

According to Newman, Jones was sensitive to his students’ diverse needs as budding artists, allowing them to tailor assignments to their individual strengths and creativity, so students could express themselves and build confidence from their own perspectives.

“Mr. Jones respected you and your voice in how you chose to interpret art,” said Newman. “I remember a time when he took a piece of my art and entered it in the high school art show. I ended up winning 3rd place but would have never entered without him.”

Today, Newman incorporates what she learned in Jones’ art class in her lesson plans as she pursues a degree in elementary education.

“Through Mr. Jones I developed both a love for art and the classroom environment,” said Newman. “With my degree, I can incorporate my love for art in the classroom.”

Alan and Wendy Pesky founded the Lee Pesky Learning Center in 1997 in honor of their son Lee, who passed away in 1995 at age 30 from a brain tumor. As a child, Lee had to learn skills to overcome processing dysgraphia, a problem with organizing letters, numbers and works on a line or page. The nonprofit center, headquartered in Boise, serves mainly children and some adults with learning disabilities, as well as those from economically challenged homes. The center also provides educational services for Idaho teachers.

Learn more about the Pesky Award and see previous recipients