Washington, D.C. — I often get asked how a dentist ends up Congress. As much as I’d like to say that it’s because ‘I like getting to the root of a problem,’ the truth is, it all started with a certain teacher who made an indelible mark on my life at a young age.
As a junior at Blackfoot High School I found myself in Mr. Hagar’s American Government class. He and I had vastly different political leanings which led to spirited classroom debate. Rather than quiet the unruly Mike Simpson, he encouraged me. Rather than reject my viewpoints, he welcomed them. LaMar Hagar sparked an interest in public policy that led me to choose political science courses in college, to run for a seat on the Blackfoot City Council, to become an Idaho State legislator and Speaker of the Idaho House, and to serve the people of Idaho in the U.S. House of Representatives. And it all started with Mr. Hagar. I doubt that my story is unique.
Each of us can look back and find a teacher who inspired us and helped us get where we are today. This year, May 4-8 has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week. We are celebrating this important occasion under challenging circumstances. And, as every adult who knows a student or educator has seen, the global pandemic has made the task of teaching even more challenging. And yet, teachers from across the Gem State are rising to the challenging. Employing every ounce of creativity to engage their distanced pupils, teachers everywhere are committed to educating our next generation of leaders.
I am inspired by the efforts of these educators. The future is in great hands because our students are in great hands. I feel fortunate that I was able to thank Mr. Hagar before he passed away. It was important to me that he knew what a positive impact he had on my life. This week is an opportunity for each of us to reach out to our teachers, past and present, and show our appreciation for the profession that creates all other professions. Now more than ever, to teachers everywhere, thank you!