Timberlake Jr. High teacher’s focus on mental health earns her Idaho Teacher of the Year award

Timberlake Jr. High teacher’s focus on mental health earns her Idaho Teacher of the Year award
Idaho State Dept. of Education
Stacie Lawler was named Idaho's Teacher of the Year for 2020. 

Timberlake Junior High School’s physical education teacher was named Idaho’s 2020 Teacher of the Year for her dedication to combating the stigma around mental health.

Stacie Lawler was selected from a group of six finalists. She was nominated by Lakeland Joint School District Superintendent Becky Meyer, who noted “her overarching belief in unconditional kindness toward all human beings.”

Lawler has dedicated herself to providing mental health resources for students and education for her fellow teachers.

“I believe a major issue in public education today is educators’ lack of knowledge about mental health,” said Lawler in her application. “It’s a frightening position to be in when you are ill-equipped to deal with a crisis.”

Lawler helped launch a community coalition to talk about suicide and helped establish an education program that brought in outside experts to teach employees how to deal with difficult situations.

“We must teach our children that it is Ok to talk about not being OK,” Lawler said. “What if we had a child tell us they were thinking of killing themselves and we knew what to do about it?

Lawler has talked to her students about her personal experience with family members’ mental health struggles. She said it opened a valuable dialogue that made textbook issues real and freed students to address their own challenges.

“At a time when we plan to train educators across the state in social-emotional learning, I’m thrilled to present this award to someone who exemplifies that approach,” said Superintendent Sherri Ybarra. ,”And it’s a lovely coincidence that this announcement comes during Suicide Prevention Month, which heightens the focus on the mental and emotional well-being of our students.”

“Our students cannot simply succeed without dedicated teachers, and Stacie Lawler is an outstanding teacher who demonstrates the positive impact a teacher can have on the lives of a student and their family members,” said Governor Brad Little. “It is an honor to recognize Stacie for the differences she has made in thousands of lives.”

Surprise! Stacie Lawler, a PE teacher at Timberlake Junior High in Spirit Lake, is Idaho’s Teacher of the Year. #IDedu #IDpol pic.twitter.com/Xxpr5zeGXZ

— Brad Little (@GovernorLittle) September 26, 2019

Lawler has taught in the Lakeland Joint School District for 11 years. She started as a physical education teacher at Twin Lakes Elementary, where she designed and delivered a new curriculum for K-6 physical education. She did the same for grade 7-8 curriculum at Timberlake Junior High, where she has taught since 2014.

With her new title, Lawler will serve as a spokesperson and representative for Idaho educators. She will travel to Washington D.C. as Idaho’s nominee for National Teacher of the Year.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Lawler worked at Lakeland Junior High School.