Since she was ten years old, Wendy Martell knew she wanted to be a teacher. Martell grew up in Pompton, New Jersey where she later met her husband Frank. She attend William Paterson University in New Jersey where she earn her teaching degree. Martell and her husband lived in Hawaii for a time, but when they had their first child they decided they wanted to raise their family on what she calls the “mainland”. “It was fun to live there while we were young, but we didn’t want to raise our kids there,” shared Martell. In 1981 Martell and her family moved to Weiser. Martell had some friends in Hawaii who lived behind them. Those friends had friends who lived in Payette. “They said they were going to buy some land up at Jenkins Creek, so we three couples bought forty acres. We had never been to Idaho, but we figured we would try it. We moved here and we never left.”
Martell taught at Head Start for the first seven years she lived in Weiser and then was employed with Ida-Ore, working with at risk kids for twelve years. “I worked up a the high school, but was not actually employed by the district. I worked with students at the high school and adults in the community with employability skills and helping them make up credits. We had a summer program where kids worked around town and we would help them get credits and work in jobs to build job skills,” stated Martell. She began working with the Weiser School District in 2003. The district had an unexpected opening in their special education department. “They asked if I wanted to try and teach special education, so I went back to school to get certified in special education. I did that for ten years,” stated Martell. After the Weiser Middle School art teacher, Liz Molary retired, Martell applied for the position and has been teaching art to middle school students for the last six years.
Martell shared why she went into teaching as her career. “I just like kids a lot. I enjoy helping them find out who they are, what they like and what they are good at. Both my sisters and my mother were teachers, so I have always felt comfortable in that arena. I was about ten when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. My mother has a slip of paper somewhere where I wrote down what I wanted to be when I grew up and I had written I wanted to be a teacher.” Martell felt receiving this award was a huge surprise. “I just like the kids. I don’t know that I am an amazing teacher by any means. I never expected to get this award. I am sure there are other people who would teach art on maybe a different level or more deeply. I hope that I teach the whole kid and help them be creative and express themselves. It feels nice, it feels good that there are people who think you do a good job. Teachers are not often lifted up I think and it’s nice when they are.” Martell has worked over thirty five years in the Weiser community serving and teaching the young and old. She is known throughout the community for her photography and unique jams and jellies. Martell and her husband Frank raised two sons, Luke and Nicolas, in this community they came to know and love. She plans to retire this year so that she may have more time to spend with family.
For tickets to celebrate with Wendy Martell and other 2018 winners on October 15th, contact the Weiser Chamber Of Commerce 208-414-0452.