American Lawyers Alliance Recognizes Blackfoot Idaho Teacher, Holly Kartchner as “Teacher of the Year”

Advocate Article - Holly Kartchner Blackfoot Teacher of the Year by LCHLAWYERS RECOGNIZE BLACKFOOT TEACHER AS ‘TEACHER OF THE YEAR’

Written by Larry C. Hunter
Published by The Advocate, November/December 2016

On August 5, 2016, while the American Bar Association annual meeting was being held in San Francisco, an ABA related organization, the American Lawyers Alliance (ALA) recognized a high school teacher from Blackfoot, Idaho as its national high school Teacher of the Year. There was a short notice in the August issue of The Advocate about the award ceremony, but I felt it ap­propriate to add a few details about the award and the teacher who re­ceived it.

While not so denominated, this award relates principally to teachers of social studies and/or civics. While most people recognize the need for excellent teaching of the STEM courses in our secondary schools, there is no similar push for the teaching of civics.

Based on various questionnaires and surveys, both formal and in formal, that is a lamentable failing. For our democracy to continue to be strong and vibrant, it is neces­sary that citizens understand the importance of the three branches of government (not the Democrats, Republicans and Independents), the systems of checks and balances and an independent judiciary, just to name a few important principles. Fortunately, Idaho, and in particular Blackfoot High School has Holly Kartchner.

Her approach to teaching is one that involves her students in the community and takes them both physically and metaphysically outside of the classroom. Three ex­amples of her teaching technique illustrate her excellence:

  1. She offers her students a broad perspective from presentations by attorneys, judges, doctors, business owners, military leaders, and legislators — and through interactive Skype sessions with interesting people in other countries. After discuss­ing Syrian refugees, she arranged a Skype session with Syrian teenagers who fled the violence in Syria to Sweden. Her students then raised money for a sewing machine and materials to help the families of the Syrian teenagers.
  2. From her first year of teaching over a decade ago, she has involved her students in the “We the People” program. By her third year of teaching, her students were Idaho State Champions and participated in the national competition in Washing­ton D.C. Her students have now participated in the national compe­tition nine straight years. And for the past three years her teams have won awards at the national level, a first for any Idaho school.
  3. When her students turn 18, she accompanies them to register to vote, which places their names on the jury rolls. In the latest election 90 percent of her eligible students voted. Being called for jury service is a privilege that her students welcome. She periodically receives calls from former students who tell her they have been called to jury service. She has created a solid citizenship base for these young adults.

It is small wonder that she received the American Civics Education Teacher Award in 2015. Ms. Kartchner makes a difference and has done much to enhance the knowledge of the American consti­tutional system to the people of her community. We all can learn from her efforts.

Larry C. Hunter is a Partner in the Idaho law firm, Moffatt Thomas with practice that emphasizes dispute resolution.  He has served as a mediator, arbitrator, hearing officer, and neutral evaluator.  As a litigator, Mr. Hunter has over 35 years of experience in trying cases before state and federal judges and juries.  Mr. Hunter is known as an effective advocate for his clients’ position while participating in an ethical and professional manner. In 2009, the Idaho State Bar presented him with the ISB Professionalism Award.  He has been a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates since 2004, and he currently services on the American Bar Association’s Presidential Commission on Lawyer Assistance Plans.

Moffatt Thomas, an Idaho law firm, has been providing legal services to the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West since 1954.  The firm serves clients in the full-spectrum of business, litigation and regulatory areas. With Idaho offices in Boise, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, the firm is strategically situated for direct contact with the governor’s office, the legislature, federal and state administrative agencies, area businesses, and national and international corporations engaged in business throughout the region. Since its inception over 60 years ago, its current and former lawyers have achieved the highest leadership positions in national, state and local legal and civic organizations.

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