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Lisa Sterling, 2021 Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching recipient

Lisa Sterling
Lisa Sterling, one of four teachers recognized this year with the Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching

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.

Lisa Sterling, an English, ELD and Creative Communications teacher from Hillside Junior High in Boise is one of the four recipients this year. Sterling was nominated by Boise State teacher education senior Alex Joe-Monday, who is a student teacher in Sterling’s classroom. Each recipient was surprised in their classroom by their principal and presented with a plaque. A video of the surprises will be played at commencement December 18, and each recipient will be honored on stage. Each teacher received $2,000 and their respective schools received $500.

Joe-Monday nominated Sterling because Sterling has been exemplary as a mentor teacher during Joe-Monday’s student teaching experience in her classroom, often finding extra resources and delivering them to students at their homes during the pandemic. Sterling’s classes at Hillside focus on recent immigrants who are new learners of English, and she has inspired Joe-Monday to be patient, show up for the students with a smile and problem solve when teaching is difficult.

“Lisa should be celebrated because I firmly believe she embodies what it means to go above and beyond for all students,” said Joe-Monday. “She is a positive light in this school and all of the students know they can come to her if they need anything. Some of them even call her Mama Sterling.”

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.

Learn more about the Pesky Award and see previous recipients