Shelley Allen, community relations, Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25

Earlier this year, we celebrated our students’ success, the Idaho Standards Achievement Test. As test results trickled in, it became apparent that something special was going on in our district. Even the State Department of Education noticed. Nancy Thomas Price of the State Department of Education wrote, “I hope you are celebrating the improvements reflected on the state summative assessment! Not only did you percent proficient go up in every grade level, but you were above state averages in every grade level and more than double the average state improvement in average improvement per grade. I am yet to find another district that met that criteria … congratulations. Well thought out improvements, strong leadership sure do make a difference.”

This was accomplished through various improvement strategies, the first of which was to develop and support highly effective classroom teachers and administrators. In addition, district teachers have developed instructional units aligned to state standards so instruction and learning is consistent throughout the district. Finally, the district focused on the integration of technology to enhance and enrich learning experiences and offer multiple opportunities for students to receive a well-rounded education.

High level of technology integration

Our school district uses interactive whiteboards, e-readers, iPads, laptops, Chromebooks and coding robots, along with various media and instructional software, to bring multiple means of instruction into the classroom. The use of technology for instruction and learning supports high student engagement and achievement.

Advanced opportunities

In addition to quality teachers and a well-planned and enriched instructional environment; our district offers many extracurricular and dual enrollment courses, and career exploration and industry certification opportunities. The Advanced Opportunities Program, funded through the State, allows students to take college-level courses or obtain career-centered certifications with the cost of college credits paid by the State. Through this program, every student in Idaho grades 7-12 has an account for up to $4,125 with the State Department of Education. These funds can be used for Dual Enrollment Courses, Advanced Placement Exams and Industry Certifications. With advanced planning, students could graduate from high school with their college general education courses completed or with an Industry Certification and ready to enter the workforce. It is, however, vitally important for students and their parents to learn about this program. For more information contact the career advisor at your child’s school. Information is also available online at sd25.us.

Idaho Teacher of the Year

In addition to celebrating our students’ academic success, we also celebrated Mary Spiker who was named the Idaho Teacher of the Year. According to Mary, teaching is the greatest profession, not only because it is the profession that is the beginning of every other profession, but also because teaching provides a platform to make a profound difference in the lives of children every day. She believes that teaching is about building relationships. As Idaho’s Teacher of the Year, Mary has testified before the Idaho Legislature, attended training with the other State Teachers of the Year and met with members of the United States Congress and President of the United States. Mrs. Spiker is but one example of the highly qualified and high-performing teachers in our district.