By MELANIE MOORE
BLACKFOOT — A local teacher has been named the Idaho VFW Teacher of the Year.
Elaine Asmus, who teaches science at Snake River High School, was presented the award Saturday at the Idaho VFW Mid-Winter Conference in Boise. Asmus was recognized because she encourages her students to participate in a number of activities throughout the year serving veterans and those less fortunate.
She said that even though she teaches science, she still feels a responsibility to encourage her students to be contributing members of their community.
"It's my job, even though I'm a science teacher, to teach citizenship," Asmus said.
Asmus serves somewhat as a volunteer facilitator at the high school. She said she lets the students know about opportunities to serve their community and she facilitates the students, providing additional information and developing a schedule when necessary.
"I put it in front of them and they take it from there," Asmus said. "We'll do whatever else comes up."
Her students have organized a Veteran's Day donation drive every year for the past 15 years to raise money to purchase personal items and Christmas gifts for veterans at the Pocatello Veteran's Home. The Elks match any student contribution, and to date more than $10,000 has be donated to the veterans at the home.
In the past, her students have also travelled to the Veteran's Home to serve lunch and visit with the veterans. This year, due to budget cuts, field trips have been eliminated but veterans will travel to the high school later this month to visit with the students.
In addition to assisting the Pocatello Veteran's Home, Asmus' students volunteer to serve the Veteran's Day dinner to local veterans each year at the Blackfoot American Legion. Several years ago, Asmus said she attended the dinner and saw the Ladies Auxiliary preparing and serving the food, unable to enjoy the night with their families. Now students assume those duties, allowing everyone to enjoy the dinner.
Asmus also organizes volunteers to ring bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. Students spend countless hours in the month leading up to Christmas standing outside Wal-Mart soliciting donations.
Asmus said her students truly deserve the recognition, and that she accepts the award on their behalf.
"The award goes to the kids," Asmus said. "This is a great generation of kids."