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Mike Brushafer, 2021 Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching recipient

Mike Brushafer
Mike Brushafer, 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.

Mike Brushafer, a mathematics teacher from Canyon Springs High School in Caldwell is one of the four recipients this year. Brushafer’s nominator, former student Amber Alexander, moved a lot with her family while she was teenager, and it affected her math skills. Fortunately, Alexander was enrolled in Mike Brushafer’s class in an alternative program so she could gain the skills and credits needed to enroll in high school.

Brushafer’s unwavering, positive spirit and his unique ability to see his students’ strengths despite their struggles gave Alexander the confidence she needed to learn and eventually excel at math. Brushafer’s commitment to at-risk students, who can be hard to reach, has earned him the respect and admiration of many students who have taken classes from him.

“Mike has stepped up and worked with likely thousands of students who need the most attention,” Alexander said. “That means thousands of students feeling uncomfortable about math, worried about their lives outside of school, have left his classroom feeling able, worthy and cared for as people before students.”

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