Lynette Leonard

A Cocollala teacher has been honored by the Idaho STEM Action Center for her efforts in STEAM education.

Lynette Leonard, a librarian and technology teacher at Southside Elementary, was one of two teachers in the state to receive the 2019 INDEEDS award (Industry's Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM). Leonard and Emmett science teacher Robin Wilson were presented the awards recently at the Idaho Technology Center's Hall of Fame Gala on Oct. 23.

“The STEM skills that students learn today will prepare them for the careers they will start a decade or more from now,” Idaho Gov. Brad Little said. “We congratulate and thank these award-winning educators for bringing lifelong knowledge in science, technology, engineering, art, and math to rural Idaho.”

According to Idaho STEM, Leonard has instructed children in formal and informal settings for 15 years and is a passionate advocate of STEAM education. STEAM incorporates arts into sciences, technology, engineering and math instruction.

Leonard has held the belief that each student should have the same access to learning opportunities regardless of geographical location, socioeconomic status and ethnicity. That has driven her quest to bring STEM and STEAM resources to her school.

“So many of our jobs require STEM skills,” Leonard said. “If we don’t provide that foundation to get students started at a young age and help them build skills and become interested in STEM, they won’t have the opportunity to be competitive and reach out and explore all the options that are available to them.”

Leonard created a makerspace in the Southside Elementary library, started a 3D printing team, hosted STEAM career nights and summer camps. She is also working to create the first STEAM SmartLab in Idaho.

“Lynette and Robin are exceptional educators who recognize the importance of industry interactions,” STEM Action Center executive director Dr. Angela Hemingway said. “Both are very mindful of the need to bring their communities and industry into their classrooms, as well as the importance of getting their students outside the traditional classroom. They’re constantly connecting students with real-world opportunities that are relevant and community based.”

Both Leonard and Wilson received checks for $2,000 and up to $2,000 additionally to attend any STEM-related national conference. Their schools will also receive $2,000 each to fund STEM initiatives.