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Boise State announces the 2023 Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching winners

Boise State’s College of Education and the Lee Pesky Learning Center will honor two local K-12 teachers with the 13th annual Pesky Award for Inspirational Teaching at the university’s Winter Commencement ceremony on December 16.

This year’s selected teachers are Shannon Nicholson, sixth grade teacher at Grace Jordan Elementary in Boise and Sarah Wang, English Language Specialist for grades 1-3 at Endeavor Elementary in Nampa. Both are alums of the Teacher Education program at Boise State.

The award includes $2,000 for each honoree, and $500 is awarded to their respective schools. Nicholson and Wang will be introduced by Boise State President Marlene Tromp on stage at the morning commencement ceremony and presented with their awards by College of Education Dean James Satterfield Jr.

“The future of our country relies on the critical role teachers play,” said Alan Pesky. “This award recognizes those teachers, by their exceptional work, who are educating our children.”

“The Pesky award speaks to the dedication and hard work teachers in our community put in every day for their students, and we are thankful for the mentoring both Shannon and Sarah have given to our teacher candidates,” said Satterfield. “We are profoundly grateful for the Pesky family’s support in recognizing outstanding teachers.”

Shannon Nicholson

Shannon Nicholson

Shannon Nicholson has 19 years of experience as an elementary teacher in the West Ada and Boise School districts. As a mentor for Boise State teacher candidates at Grace Jordan, Nicholson helps prepare the next generation of teachers to teach multilingual students who come from diverse backgrounds.

Nicholson always wanted to be a teacher and developed leadership skills early on as the oldest of four children. Inspired by her fourth grade teacher, Nicholson realized learning could be fun and that teachers have a big influence on their students and their development.

“Teaching is so much more than just the curriculum that we teach,” said Nicholson. “Our job is to create young adults who are good people who will add to our communities.”

Sarah Wang

Sarah Wang

Sarah Wang has 22 years of experience as a classroom teacher, and serves as a liaison for Boise State teacher candidates, a position that bridges a candidate’s experience between the teacher education program and the school where they are placed. As an English language specialist with a background in literacy instruction, Wang helps teacher candidates and her co-teachers to utilize effective literacy strategies and shape student learning.

Wang was also inspired to become a teacher early in life by an educator who cared about her journey as a student.

“Growing up, school was challenging for me, and I had to work hard and study often, but this didn’t deter me from wanting to be a lifelong learner,” said Wang. “I knew at the young age of eight that I wanted to be a teacher. My favorite elementary teacher showed me what makes an amazing teacher, and I wanted to make an impact on others as she did for me.”