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Opinion: Independent Notes

◆ Art Teacher of the Year, the importance of one student and prayer!

What a wonderful year for the Star Valley High School Art program!

How about those SVHS art awards? It was a record setting year for the Star Valley students at the Wyoming High School Art Symposium in Casper. Please see SVI feature pages 12-13.

Congratulations SVHS Art students! This valley is so proud of you.

As we compiled the feature report on the Star Valley High School art program at SVI Media, I thought we should include the information about the 2020 Wyoming High School Art Teacher — Kim Dockstader. This was a COVID delayed award, as the art symposium was one of the many canceled events in the past year.

However, Mrs. Dockstader said she didn’t want to be a part of the feature and the report should be dedicated to the students.

With that said, let me do what we do in the Legislature, and insert a disclaimer on this art teacher. I’m married to this art teacher, now going on 39 years!

We insert these disclaimers on the House and Senate floors when we are discussing Legislation directly related to our work, family or other matters.

Now back to the Wyoming Art Teacher of the Year. She declined having her information included with the feature on the student’s awards.

That’s the way she is, her students are her priority. In her world, her students deserve the attention.

Kim seems to know all of them, what their talents and abilities are, what their plans are for the future. Everything.

When we are together I note as her students come running up to her to visit. This happens wherever we go in Star Valley, the grocery stores in Thayne and Afton, dinner in Alpine, community events throughout the valley. They want to visit with their art teacher. They talk about their art, their eduction, their plans. I enjoy listening in and experiencing their youthful enthusiasm.

I have always been impressed with those visits and they exemplify how Mrs. Dockstader, their art teacher, has made a positive difference in their life.

Now on a personal note, but directly related to these positive experiences and significance of one student. This may make you uncomfortable, but I’m going to share it with you anyway as it pertains to the importance of her students and teaching.

As a couple we open each day with prayer. If I’m home, it’s usually kneeling in an office behind a radio studio as she makes an early morning stop on her way to school. If I’m in Cheyenne, I find a quiet room in the Capitol and we kneel and pray by phone.

Those prayers generally express gratitude for being involved with the valley’s youth through teaching and with our business.

There is also a request that she’ll take care of each student and help them with their art and education in general.

This approach emphasizes the importance of one – the importance of each student’s life and helping their teacher serve as a positive influence.

I’ve seen the direct affects of those requests over the years as my wife works with her students.
So, while we won’t have the information about the SVHS Art Teacher in this week’s feature report, we will have it in my weekly column, Independent Notes.
Politicians have the ability to do that — tweak those agreements a little when necessary.
Congratulations to my wife Kim, the 2020 Wyoming High School Teacher of the Year.
I love you.

Prayers are not uncommon in the capitol. A small group of Representatives and Senators of different faiths find a few moments to meet and offer prayer just minutes before the session opens each day.

As for that early morning prayer with my wife — one day a fellow Senator walked into a room we were using for early morning prayer. He hesitated when he saw me kneeling and speaking into the my cell phone. He backed out and quietly shut the door.

I found him later and explained that is how my wife and I start the day — with prayer.
He twisted the ends of his mustache, looked up at me, and said, “That’s probably a good idea.”

It wasn’t long after I noticed he had a worn, leather covered Bible, with dog-eared pages in his hand as he came onto the Senate Floor everyday.

Following that experience, the brief conversation, and overtime we have become good friends as both understand the importance of faith, prayer and scripture in our lives.