Teachers Make A Difference Every Day

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health sends heartfelt thanks to every teacher across Idaho.

We’re especially thankful for our partner schools, districts and organizations that work to build a healthier Idaho via the education sector. Many of the factors that impact health can be addressed through education, and we’re committed to supporting these efforts.

Teachers make a difference in the lives of children every day. Today, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, our staff shares memories of some of our favorite teachers and what their impact was on us.

Kendra Witt-Doyle, Executive Director

Kendra Witt-Doyle

Mrs. Klein taught health occupations at my high school, which is a multiyear elective that teaches anatomy, physiology, and systems of the body. Students got to job shadow various health professionals in different occupations. Mrs. Klein was a nurse and her passion for healthcare was contagious. Taking health occupations cemented my desire to work in healthcare and in the health field. We even became CNAs during the course, and I worked in a nursing home. Mrs. Klein made complex concepts fun to understand, and we got to real world experience by dissecting all types of organs and working in the healthcare system.

Deanne Schildan, Business Administration Manager

Deanne Schildan

I was fortunate to have many great teachers. One of my most influential was Bill Cairns, my high school government teacher and student council advisor at Snake River High School. It wasn’t the subject matter that I remember but rather his genuine interest in his students and his caring way of making sure all students were acknowledged and heard.

He encouraged and supported us in our interests and did whatever he could to strengthen our self-confidence, often showing up at sporting events, choir concerts, etc. He helped students obtain needed scholarships by writing glowing letters of recommendation focusing on each student in a very personal way. Mr. Cairns passed away in January of 2022. I am grateful I had the forethought to send him a letter a couple years prior, thanking him for the positive influence he had on me. Great teachers don’t just teach, they make a positive difference in the lives of their students.

Nick Jezierny, Communications Specialist

Nick Jezierny
Nick Jezierny

I always liked school, but third grade was the first time I loved it. Miss Ries, my third-grade teacher at Wilcoxson Elementary in Stratford, Conn., had a lot to do with it. Miss Ries had a way of motivating and inspiring students, making us proud and determined to always do our best. She encouraged creativity. I invented a game called “Mixed Up Sports” that she let us play during our gym class. I can’t remember the exact rules of my game that combined basketball, soccer and baseball, but I do remember feeling extremely proud that my game was played by our class. How cool is that? For the record, third grade was the only time I ever received a straight-A report card at any academic level. One other cool thing about Miss Ries — she lived next door to former Harlem Globetrotters great Meadowlark Lemon!

Courtney Frost, Senior Program Officer

Courtney Frost

I don’t have a favorite teacher, but there were moments from my public-school education that made a huge impact mainly because my teachers cared. Here are a few:

• In third grade we were learning about oceans. One day we walked into the classroom that had been transformed into an underwater scene. There was blue cellophane across the ceiling covering the lights to make the room glow like the ocean. The teacher hung all kinds of underwater animals from the ceiling. We were in awe of the magic of the ocean for a week. I vividly remember eating blue Jello with gummy sea creatures in it, which blew my mind at the time.

• My high school journalism teacher encouraged me to write about my experience in the principal’s office, which really made me feel like I was “sticking it to the man.” Haha.

• My high school Spanish teacher fundraised so we could see a Frida Kahlo exhibit, which sparked my love for art and history.

• My eighth-grade history teacher created an interactive history lesson for weeks combining Battleship, The Hunt for Red October and history around the Cold War.

Now as an adult, I know these teachers went above and beyond to create amazing moments for us, which I am so grateful for. Cheers to you teachers!

Jackie Yarbrough, Senior Program Officer

Jackie Yarbrough

Growing up in rural Idaho and attending a very small school gave me a unique perspective on the role teachers played in my upbringing. My teachers, and all those involved in our school system, were an integral part of our community culture.

The teachers and school personnel were literally my neighbors, my coaches, and my youth pastors. I saw them often at the post office, the grocery store and the restaurant where I was a waitress; I even mowed their lawns and was babysitter for them. They all knew me and my little brother by name, as well as our interests. I grew up with a sense of belonging at school.

I was encouraged to think bigger about what I wanted to be when I grew up, what I wanted to know more about, what I wanted to do with my time and where I wanted to go.

Clark Muscat taught history and government classes in Hagerman High School and he was also my basketball coach. Mr. Muscat encouraged me to be a critical thinker and leader. He inspired me to work hard and have discipline in the classroom and on the court. He told me that I was smart and that I needed to go to college. I believe this encouragement and dedication to provide foundational opportunities for me has led to my success. Thanks, Coach!

Kaylee Wells, Programs Coordinator

Kaylee Wells

I’m the youngest on our team, so maybe my nostalgia hasn’t kicked in yet in remembering specific moments from my school days. I have gained a true appreciation for what teachers do through my best friend, Laura Williams. She teaches second grade at Amity Elementary in Boise. The hours she puts in and countless sleepless nights she endures is mind blowing. I had no idea how much work it takes to be an exceptional teacher. She truly goes above and beyond to support her students, and it shows through their love for her. She would do anything for any of those kids and they are so lucky to have her as a teacher. I have so much respect for teachers now.