FILER — A Filer teacher is in the national spotlight.

An eighth-grade English teacher at Filer Middle School, Sara Holley was named last month to the National Education Association’s “30 under 30” list.

It recognizes 30 teachers from across the country who are younger than 30.

“I didn’t really understand how big of a deal it was at first,” she said, until she saw the list of recipients from all over the United States. “That was really cool.”

Holley, who’s in her third year of teaching, started her career as a kindergarten teacher at Filer Elementary School for a year.

But she discovered it meant essentially being a mother 24/7, which she said wasn’t fair to her family. She has three sons: ages 2, 5 and 7.

“I really did love kindergarten, but I enjoy middle school more,” she said. “They get your humor; you can have good conversations with them. I think it’s a really influential time in their life.”

Holley said she can talk with students about making good decisions, which will affect their future. And it’s a chance to help them know who they are before heading off to high school, she added.

A highlight of teaching middle school last year: receiving a letter from a student thanking her for helping her make better decisions and better friends.

“It reminds you of why you do your job,” Holley said.

She said she has received great opportunities through the regional office for the Idaho Education Association, the state teachers union.

That includes training and the chance to attend a conference last summer for new teachers. This summer, she returned to the conference as a facilitator.

“She is really a forward-thinking teacher,” said Linda Jones, region four director for the Idaho Education Association, who’s based in Twin Falls. “She is excited, innovative and passionate about what she does.”

Holley has worked with the association as a facilitator to provide training for other teachers who are new to the profession, Jones said. “I think she has a passion for excellence in the classroom.”

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Holley graduated from Idaho State University’s Twin Falls program in 2015, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an English emphasis.

She was supposed to do her student teaching in fall 2015, but was an emergency hire in the Filer School District as a kindergarten teacher.

She had been teaching full-time for a semester by the time she graduated from ISU in December 2015.

Being a teacher, though, wasn’t Holley’s original career goal. She wanted to become an equine veterinarian.

But after getting married and having children, “I realized it would be really tough to go through vet school with kids,” she said.

Holley took a few anatomy classes at the College of Southern Idaho thinking she’d maybe become a nurse, but she hated it. She switched her major to education.

“I’d always liked teaching,” she said, and helping people.

Growing up, Holley enjoyed helping younger children and her peers through her involvement with 4-H, rodeo, and playing basketball and soccer. She said she thrives off seeing other people succeed.

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