Each year, Boise State’s College of Education join Alan and Wendy Pesky, founders of the Lee Pesky Learning Center, in honoring outstanding and inspirational K-12 teachers in Idaho.
Graduating seniors in the College of Education nominate teachers for the award. Seniors choose those who have inspired them to seek their own careers in education.
Four teachers, Pat Absalonson from Lewis and Clark Middle School in Meridian; Sylvia Fine from Kuna High School in Kuna; Laurie Roberts from Timberline High School in Boise and Juan Salamanca from Alturas Elementary School in Hailey, will receive awards during Boise State’s winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 15. Each teacher will receive $2,000. Their schools each will receive $500.
“Being involved in public education, my wife and I have met many teachers. We know them, and have an appreciation of what teachers do,” said Alan Pesky. “These are our heroes, the people who are not teaching for the money, but because they can impact lives.”
For Pesky, teachers and members of the military, law enforcement, first responders and others “are the underpinnings of what creates the basic foundation of our country.”
Here are student testimonials from the nomination letters:
– Jenna Caven nominated Absalonson, who teaches music.
“His energy was unmatched and he had the patience to critique our posture and steps until they were perfect. I had no idea at the time that I wanted to teach, but I knew I wanted to have some of his charisma and ability to motivate people.”
– Alethea Rice nominated Fine, who teaches language arts and creative writing.
“She made people try their hardest and pushed us to become better writers and to pursue creative fields. She signed us up for the national poetry competition, and gave us the chance to participate in a national novel writing program.”
– Sydney Scott nominated Roberts, who teaches literature.
“I think that I lived most of my life trying to impress my teachers and get them to ‘like me,’ but Miss Roberts was on my team before she met me. I know that I’m not the only student who feels this way about Miss Roberts. I can only hope to touch the lives of half as many kids as she has.”
– Jackie Guzman nominated Salamanca, who teaches bilingual classes.
“Mr. Salamanca was the reason many parents who belong to the Hispanic community began to get involved in the education of their children. I consider Mr. Salamanca the bridge the community needed between Anglos and Hispanics.”
The Peskys 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 and 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.
“There is a lot of opportunity to make things better in the area of public education in Idaho,” said Pesky. “My wife and I feel strongly that at this stage in our life, this is where our greatest enjoyment is – benefitting children, and especially those who will benefit the most from education.”