Boise State’s College of Education and the Lee Pesky Learning Center will continue the annual tradition of honoring inspirational K-12 teachers with the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching at the university’s winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 18. This year marks the 11th year the award will be presented.
Jake Miller, a physical education teacher at Hillside Junior High in Boise is one of the four recipients this year. The Pesky award is also a family affair for Miller – his father, Robbie Miller, also received the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching in 2014. Miller’s unique approach to physical education, incorporating skills and experiences beyond what one associates with traditional K-12 PE classes inspired his student teacher Sarah Absalonson to nominate Miller for the award.
Miller’s approach includes outdoor education, fire building, knot tying and camping trips. He teaches “Parkastics”, a combination of Parkour and gymnastics, to teach students movement awareness that can enhance their ability to move and play sports. According to Absalonson, Miller’s resourcefulness allowed him to adapt to teaching PE virtually during the pandemic using online resources effectively. Miller’s commitment to creatively teaching skills that directly inspire students to lead active lives has given Absalonson excellent examples to use in her own teaching.
“Mr. Miller has inspired me as a physical educator regarding the use of creativity and resources,” said Absalonson. “He always puts his students first by prioritizing their physical and emotional safety as well as by doing everything he can to make their learning experience in physical education a meaningful one.”
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 words 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.