IDAHO, USA — This article first appeared in the Idaho Press.
Outgoing Idaho state Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra will start a new job Jan. 4 as a kindergarten teacher at an elementary school on the Mountain Home Air Force Base.
“Trying to choose my new chapter, I looked at a number of job offers in Idaho and beyond,” Ybarra said in a statement. “In my heart, I realized that what feels right at this point is to go back to my natural habitat and the place that started me on my professional journey – the classroom.”
“Classroom visits across Idaho were among the happiest moments throughout my two terms as superintendent,” she said. “And in fall 2021, when I filled in as a substitute teacher for schools hit hard by the pandemic, it reminded me how much I loved that daily contact with kids, helping them grow as students and individuals.”
Ybarra is a former third-grade teacher from Mountain Home who also served as an assistant principal, principal and federal programs director for the Mountain Home School District before winning two terms in office as the state schools superintendent. She still lives in Mountain Home.
“Our son graduates from the University of Idaho soon and will then join the military,” Ybarra said. “It makes sense to go home and do what I love. And I really look forward to working on the Mountain Home Air Force Base with children who share the special pride and challenges of having parents who serve our nation.”
She added, “Serving eight years as Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction has been an honor and a privilege, and I’ve loved working with schools, students and families throughout the state.”
Ybarra had little political experience when she won a four-way GOP primary in 2014 for the state’s top education job with just 28.7% of the vote. She went on to narrowly defeat Democrat Jana Jones in the general election that year, 50.6% to 49.4%.
An early supporter of Donald Trump, Ybarra defeated Jeff Dillon, a school district superintendent from Wilder, in the GOP primary in 2018 with 58.9% of the vote to his 41.1%, then again narrowly won the general election, defeating Democratic nominee and former Idaho Teacher of the Year Cindy Wilson, 51.5% to 48.5%.
Ybarra, who’s had a rocky relationship with key lawmakers and the state Board of Education throughout her tenure, lost the GOP primary in May to Debbie Critchfield, the former president of the state board and a former school board member from eastern Idaho. Critchfield handily won the November general election, defeating Democratic nominee Terry Gilbert with 69.7% to his 30.3%.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: