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Sawtooth STEM Educator Award

The Sawtooth STEM Educator Award

The Sawtooth STEM Educator Award (formerly INDEEDS) is given to two Idaho educators who create unique opportunities for students to experience the fun and excitement of STEM by integrating real-world experiences and hands-on activities into the classroom. Do you know a public-school educator who not only creates unique opportunities for students to experience the fun and excitement of STEM, but who also integrates real-world STEM examples and hands-on activities into the classroom? We are looking for educators that embody just that and we’d love to hear their STEM-azing story!

Educators from two award categories will be selected, one from K-6th and 7th-12th grades. These Idaho educators with a strong commitment to going above and beyond in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be chosen by our industry partners.

Who’s eligible: All public K-12 educator nominations are encouraged. Self-nominations are accepted.


  • $2,000 individual cash prize from Industry awards
  • Up to $2,000 from the Idaho STEM Action Center to attend a national conference related to STEM to advance their professional practices
  • The educator’s school will receive $2,000 for STEM initiatives/programs


Nomination Schedule

Open: May 10, 2023
Close: August 15, 2023
Award date: TBD

2023 Recipients will be announced at the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame Gala in November 2023. 


Would you like to partner and help us celebrate these amazing educators? All partnerships qualify for an Idaho Educational Tax Credit or Tax Deduction! Check out the partnership levels below.

  • Participate in judging educator nominations
  • 1 seat at the Hall of Fame Awards Gala
  • Logo on this webpage and in promotional materials
  • Social Media highlight of company on STEM Action Center Facebook page
  • Participate in judging educator nominations
  • 1 seat at the Hall of Fame Awards Gala
  • Logo on this webpage and in promotional materials
  • Participate in judging educator nominations
  • Logo on this webpage and in promotional materials


Past Winners and Partners for the INDEEDS Awards

2022 INDEEDS Winners

Caty Solace and Kristy Rudan
BOISE, Idaho (Nov. 2, 2022) — STEM-AZING TEACHER — Incoming Idaho STEM Action Center executive director Caty Solace congratulates Syringa Middle School teacher Kristy Rudan after the latter received a 2022 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, or INDEEDS for short, at the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame gala. The winner in the kindergarten through sixth-grade category, Rudan teaches sixth-graders science and English language arts at the Caldwell, Idaho, school and hosts an after-school 3D printing club and stages 3D printing summer camps. (Photo courtesy of the Idaho Technology Council)
Caty Solace and Jessica LePresta
BOISE, Idaho (Nov. 2, 2022) — STEM-AZING TEACHER — Incoming Idaho STEM Action Center executive director Caty Solace congratulates North Idaho STEM Charter Academy teacher Jessica LaPresta after the latter received a 2022 Industry’s Excellent Educators Dedicated to STEM award, or INDEEDS for short, at the Idaho Technology Council’s Hall of Fame gala. The winner in the seventh- through 12th-grade category, LaPresta teaches secondary students at the Rathdrum, Idaho, school mathematics (including dual-credit college algebra and analytic trigonometry), business technology, financial literacy, and senior project and serves as the coach of its MATHCOUNTS team. (Photo courtesy of the Idaho Technology Council)

Thank you to our 2022 Partners!

Presenting Partner

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Bronze Partner

Dr. Rebecca Wills Educator Scholarship

Donated by Allan Silberstein

Kellie Taylor and Sara Oosterhuis

Dr. Kellie Taylor is an elementary teacher in the Boise School District. She currently teaches 2nd and 3rd grade at Hawthorne Elementary, and has just completed her time as a National Museum of African American History and Culture STEM Master Teacher fellow. Kellie also served as a 2018-2019 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., creating STEM and Makerspace activities with primary sources.

Kellie’s teaching career began in 2004 at Ustick Elementary. Since that time, she has earned her masters (2006) and doctorate (2016) in Educational Technology at Boise State University. As an elementary educator, STEM has always been a large part of her classroom. Her use of project-based learning in the general classroom led to a position teaching Kindergarten through 5 engineering. After 11 months away from the classroom for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, Kellie returned to the general classroom, continuing project-based learning with a strong STEM emphasis through coding, robotics, drones, and hands-on science.

In addition to her work in the classroom, Kellie has written STEM curriculum, coordinated STEM nights, Family Engineering nights, Family Creative Learning workshops, career nights, makerspace, after-school robotics, and 3D printing groups. Her belief in providing accessible opportunities led her to coach First LEGO League, Idaho TECH Challenge, FabSLAM, Junior Botball teams, and MIT NASA Zero Robotics. Kellie was also a part of NASA Microgravity University for Educators in 2017. This project connected over 100 of her students with NASA and allowed them to see their Satellite Launch Experimental Device (SLED) tested live at Johnson Space Center. A total of five educators were a part of the transformational project and professional development. These experiences help to shape educators and students.

Professional development and presenting at national and regional conferences and workshops have had an important influence on Kellie’s career. She has a passion for connecting with other STEM educators and has presented at various conferences, teacher workshops, and webinars since 2013.  She strives to fuel her passions so she can share those with students and inspire their passions. Furthermore, Kellie works to mentor colleagues informally by sharing professional development opportunities and collaborating on presentations, workshops, and classroom activities. She is currently leading a project team for the 100Kin10 organization to help make it easier for educators to integrate robotics into core mathematics instruction.

Kellie has been recognized as a 2020 ITEEA Teacher Excellence Award, a 2014 and 2018 State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and Teacher of the Year. She was also chosen for the Mickelson Exxonmobil Teachers Academy, United States Patent and Trademark Office National Summer Teacher Institute, and Space Exploration Educator Crew with Space Center Houston. Kellie is also an active participant in the Idaho STEM Ecosystem serving on the state leadership board and at the regional level for the Southwest Idaho ST3M Hub in region 3.

Kellie’s family has been instrumental in her success by supporting, encouraging, and inspiring her. Her husband and three children have kept her company on late nights studying, attended school events, volunteered in the classroom, and provided warm welcomes after late nights at school. She was inspired to offer the opportunities she does by her own children’s teacher, Laurie Clemens. Laurie supported students in project-based learning and allowed them to fail forward. Kellie looks forward to growing her passions and continuing offering opportunities for students and educators to find and pursue their passions.

Sarah Oosterhuis is a pre-engineering teacher in the West Ada School District, currently teaching at Renaissance High School in Meridian. She has taught at several high schools in West Ada during her 13-year career in education and continues to serve students from multiple high schools who travel to the Renaissance Career Technical Education (CTE) center to take her “Civil Engineering and Architecture” class. In the classroom, Sarah works hard to improve her pedagogy (lesson delivery) by drawing on her Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree, industry experience, and Master of Science in STEM Education, which culminated in a research paper titled “Improving Engineering Curriculum & Instruction to be More Inclusive for Women”. In 2020, Sarah was named the Idaho TSA (Technology Student Association) advisor of the year. In addition to serving students as an advisor, Sarah is in her fifth year serving on the Idaho TSA advisory board, helping optimize opportunities for TSA members and advisors across the state. Sarah was a key player in bringing several valuable opportunities to engineering students in the West Ada School District including dual-credit articulation agreements with both Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) and University of Idaho, as well as instituting and expanding AutoDesk Certified User (ACU) opportunity for students. In 2018, Sarah was awarded the Project Lead the Way (PLTW)’s “Outstanding Teacher Award.” PLTW is a national organization providing engineering curriculum for high schools. Over the years, Sarah ensured that students had access to exceptional resources in the classroom by bringing in more than $24,000 in grant money. A grant provided by the STEM Action Center in 2018 enabled Sarah to run a “Bedazzle with LEDs” Summer Camp, a highlight of her teaching career. This all-girls camp incorporated crafting, engineering, programming, technology, and bedazzling in a supportive atmosphere peppered with high-energy dance breaks. Students benefit from many enriching opportunities that Sarah brings to the classroom such as architectural model construction, over 100 technical tutorials on the “Oosterschool” YouTube channel, and creative assessment strategies. Sarah continues to seek out new ways to engage students through a quirky hobby of consuming copious books, podcasts, and YouTube videos about pedagogy.

Thank you to our 2021 Partners!

Presenting Partner

Gold Partners

Silver Partner

Bronze Partner

Gina Kwid

Gina Kwid is the elementary engineering teacher at Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle. She has taught second grade, third grade, and engineering in the West Ada School District for 15 years.

Her students engage in robotics, coding, 3-D printing, electronics, space science activities, and environmental science projects. In addition, Gina coaches the afterschool junior botball teams, which compete locally throughout the school year and attend the Global Conference for Educational Robotics each summer. The school’s team won the national championship last year, and Gina was named the outstanding elementary mentor for the program.

She is a makerspace teacher and her school’s STEM night coordinator, plus Gina coaches its Idaho Exhibition of Ideas teams and the amateur radio club. She was awarded an Amateur Radio on the International Space Station proposal in 2019 that allowed students to talk live with an astronaut on the International Space Station via ham radio equipment.

A Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Gina has presented robotics at the Idaho Education Technology Association conference and twice presented at the Space Exploration Educators Conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She also has attended the Microgravity University for Educators training at NASA and the Teacher’s Institute at the Amateur Radio Relay League’s headquarters in Connecticut.

Gina is excited to see where technology and online learning take her and her students. She is ready to learn new ways of teaching and excited to watch her students grow in this new digital-learning environment.

Tim Gering

Tim Gering teaches physical science and STEM at Orofino Junior-Senior High School and is the science department chair. He has taught chemistry, Earth science, and physical science during his two decades as an educator. He completed his master’s degree in educational leadership in 2010 and served as principal at Bonners Ferry High School from 2013-2016.

Tim has spent the last three years building a STEM program at Orofino Junior-Senior High, creating curriculum and writing grants to fund its projects. He also coaches students who compete in the Idaho Science and Engineering Fair.

He looks forward to continuing to challenge his students and building the Orofino Junior-Senior High STEM program. He plans to continue partnering with Idaho businesses to provide his students with real-world experience and employable skills.

Tim and his wife, Kari, live in Orofino. Their twin daughters and son are employed in STEM careers in nursing and construction management, respectively. Their youngest daughter is a student at Orofino Junior-Senior High.

Thank you to our 2020 Partners!

Presenting Partner

Gold Partners

Silver Partner

Bronze Partners

Lynette Leonard

Lynette Leonard is currently the Librarian at Southside Elementary, in Cocolalla, Idaho. She has lived in many states over the years.  Lynette is originally from South Jordan, Utah.  She has been teaching children over the last 15 years in both formal and non-formal settings.  For the last 4 years she has also been teaching literacy, technology classes such as coding, STEAM and much more.  Lynette believes every child should have the same access to STEAM skills no matter their geographical location, social economic status and/or ethnicity. This has been a motiving factor for her to bring STEAM resources to the students of the small rural school of Southside Elementary.  She has created a makerspace in her library. She incorporates STEAM skills in all her library and computer lab lessons and collaborates with classroom teachers to do the same with their core lessons and projects. Lynette started a 3D printing team and has created a summer STEAM camp, hosted STEAM career nights, implemented a library wax museum night and is an instrumental leader in progressing STEAM education at Southside Elementary.  In addition, she has been instrumental in pursuing funding for STEAM programs currently at Southside and continues to do so. Lynette’s dedication to bring STEAM resources to children has her currently working on bringing the first STEAM SmartLab classroom in the state of Idaho to Southside Elementary School.

Her dedication to teach children expands beyond Southside Elementary as she has volunteered or is currently volunteering, in other community organizations such as Cubs Scouts; where she is held many positions including Day Camp Program Director for the Inland Northwest Council, Boy Scouts , Master Naturalist and (SOLE)Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education.

Lynette is a mother of three wonderful sons, who inspire her to help every child aspire to their full potential.  She lives and works for children; and their educations and successes are her rewards.

Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson is a science teacher with the personal and professional objective of connecting students to science and developing their analytical thinking skills to help them become better decision makers as adults. Her teaching style is patterned after her own experiences as a scientist and focuses on providing her students with real-world context and have them “doing science”. Prior to February 2014, Robin Wilson was a professional biologist managing regional, statewide, and national programs in Nevada for over 15 years. When the opportunity to geographically relocate and shift careers came about, Robin transitioned by receiving her Master’s in Teaching and becoming a secondary science teacher. Since August of that same year, Robin has been teaching at Emmett High School, in Idaho, as a biology and chemistry teacher. In this short period of time, she has been successful in accomplishing her objective, with students going on to college in science fields, students participating in various college-ready internship science programs, and strong participation in regional science fair competitions. In 2018, Robin was appointed as Science Department Chair in the Emmett School District and has been working diligently to advance the science program at the Emmett School District. She also oversees her beloved Biology Club. Robin Wilson has a daughter who has a Masters in Civil Engineering and is employed by the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Thank you to our 2019 Partners!

Platinum Partners

Gold Partner

Silver Partners

Bronze Partners

2018 INDEEDS Winner, John Barenberg

K-6th: John Barenberg, a 3rd grade teacher at Marsing Elementary in Marsing, ID

John has proven himself to be an innovative leader for STEM education not just in his school, but in his entire community. Not only has he taught 3rd grade for 31 years, John has been instrumental in building a one-of-a-kind afterschool and community education program. By partnering with local businesses, community groups, and the municipal government, John has brought students to the table with parents and local leaders to learn about such varied topics as rocketry, 3D printing, agriculture, and weather.

Laura Wommack, 2018 INDEEDS Winner

7th-12th: Laura Wommack, a 10th-12th grade teacher at Lakeside Jr-Sr High in Plummer, ID

Laura has been the recipient of several prestigious training and research experiences- from collaborative research opportunities with NASA to a National Geographic trek to learn about Arctic ecology firsthand. Her passion for instruction shows in the ways she provides quality experiences to her students. Laura uses digital methods to connect her students with astronauts, forensic scientists, ecologists, and other STEM professionals.

Thank you to our 2018 Partners!

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Bronze Partners

2017 INDEEDS Winners

Jason George of Vision Charter School
in Caldwell

Paula McElroy of Westside Elementary
School in Payette

Thank you to our 2017 Partners!

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Bronze Partners

Melyssa Ferro of Syringa Middle School in Caldwell

Melyssa Ferro of Syringa Middle School
in Caldwell

Sonia Galaviz of Garfield Elementary in Boise

Sonia Galaviz of Garfield Elementary
in Boise

Thank you to our 2016 Partners!

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Bronze Partners

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