Teacher from West Ada Alternative School named Teacher of the Year


Todd Knight paused as Superintendent of Public Education Sherri Ybarra told him he was Idaho’s 2022 Teacher of the Year on Thursday.

Silent, eyes closed, Knight searched for the right words. How? ‘Or’ What? Why? That’s all that came to my mind, he said afterwards. For Knight, a science teacher at West Ada’s Crossroads Middle School, it was like winning the lottery, after forgetting that he had bought a ticket.

“Thanks. It’s… I don’t know… I don’t know,” Knight told a room full of students, Ybarra and a group of reporters and educators who crowded into his classroom for the announcement. surprise.

” Frightening ? A student offered.

“Dazzling is a big word for that,” Knight replied, to a chorus of laughter. “It is extremely humiliating.”

Knight must have taken a minute when he found out he was the 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year, standing in silence in front of his students, educators and journalists gathered to celebrate the award. Sami Edge / IdahoEdNews

Knight, who teaches science, engineering and coding at Crossroads, was selected from about 150 applicants as Idaho’s New Teacher of the Year. Next year, he will advise Ybarra’s State Department of Education, attend the Statehouse, and possibly travel to Washington, DC, to represent Idaho, Ybarra said.

Ybarra praised Knight’s focus on student growth rather than achievement scores and his engaging approach to science, which allows students to research how tackling football demonstrates an equal and opposite reaction, and how tug of war illustrates inertia.

“Todd has a special knack for engaging and thrilling students by finding personalized and relevant ways to communicate scientific data and principles,” she said in a press release.

Knight, who was also named West Ada Teacher of the Year for 2021, has been at Crossroads since 2014. He has taught at Star and River Valley Elementary Schools in West Ada since graduating with education degrees from the West Ada. ‘Boise State University and Concordia University.

Teaching has always been Knight’s calling, said mom Glenna Smith. He drifted off once or twice, changing his specialization in college and considering careers in physics and chiropractic. Ultimately, Smith added, his path always came back to the classroom.

“He followed his heart and he’s exceptional in this area,” said Smith. The teacher of the year award, she said, is “validation of everything he believes in.”

It’s hard to identify a single example of Knight going above and beyond for his students, said Crossroads director Joe Palaia, because Knight does it every day. At the height of the pandemic, Knight took on additional responsibilities by accompanying students through technological hurdles. If he sees a student retiring or being a loner, Knight goes out of his way to support them.

Supt. Ybarra addresses Knight’s class on Thursday, presenting him with the 2021 Teacher of the Year award.

“He’s the kind of guy who really engages students,” Palaia said. “As an alternative school, our children are often unhappy with the education system and they struggle. But he brings them to life and he does a great job with them.

Smith and his wife Abby Knight say Knight’s passion has always been to help underprivileged students succeed. Long before joining the Crossroads staff, Knight was a substitute at the school. The community dynamic made it back down.

“The whole school radiated this warmth and this community and this passion to teach students to be responsible adults,” said Knight. “These are the children who need this to be paid to them.”

He highlighted this community on Thursday, addressing the 150 Crossroad students and staff who gathered to celebrate his award. He thanked his family and asked the students to look around and identify other teachers and staff who are helping them with their education.

“It’s not something I do alone,” Knight said. “We build on each other and we build on each other. “

About Sami Edge

Journalist Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a member of the Education Writers Association 2019 and reports on results for Latino students in Idaho. She is also a member of the American Press Institute in 2019. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Read more stories from Sami Edge »

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