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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Ybarra’s ‘Educator of the Year’ award claim questioned

Sherri Ybarra, GOP candidate for Idaho state schools superintendent, proudly lists among her educational accomplishments "Educator of the Year 2005" and "Educator of the Year 2006." But she's never been Idaho's Teacher of the Year, an honor that's been bestowed annually since 1959. Nor has she been the Mountain Home School District's nominee for that state competition.

Instead, in 2005 and 2006, Ybarra was among 10 Mountain Home teachers nominated to compete to be the district's representative in the state Teacher of the Year competition. In 2005, she shared that distinction with two other teachers from West Elementary School, one of whom won the district competition; in 2006, she shared it with one other from her school. The school district’s website lists those honored each year as the district’s “Top Ten Teachers.” Idaho also has Superintendent of the Year and elementary and secondary Principal of the Year awards given out by the state school administrators' association, but no official Educator of the Year.

Ybarra has been clear throughout her campaign, when asked about the honor, that it was a local award for which she was selected by her peers. But she's never clarified that on her website or campaign materials. Her campaign didn’t immediately respond Monday to inquiries about the award.

“I think a lot of people would assume it’s a statewide award, or at least a district-wide award,” said Jim Weatherby, professor emeritus at Boise State University and a longtime observer of Idaho politics. “People read something of more significance into that than just a school designation which she shares with another teacher.” You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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