Educators honored at Crystal Apple Awards

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Educators honored at Crystal Apple Awards

11:38 a.m. PST November 6, 2015

Lights … Camera … Educate!

Ten local educators were honored Thursday night at the 19th Annual Crystal Apple Awards, Salem-Keizer’s gala celebration of education excellence.

These educators were given the royal treatment, complete with red carpet.

Each of the 29 nominees walked down the carpet with their guests, spoke with TV personnel, and got to show off their formal wear to the many fans that gathered under the lit entrance of the Historic Elsinore Theatre.

Instead of being asked “Who are you wearing?” these educators were asked what they love about their jobs and why they believe working with students is so important.

Tom Hewitt, retired Judson Middle School drama teacher and local actor and comedian, served as emcee for the event, kicking off the night with a humorous welcome that got the energetic crown even more excited.

The awards began in 1996 when Salem Chamber of Commerce representatives teamed with local educators to find a way to encourage and recognize education excellence in Salem-Keizer schools.

Presented by the Salem–Keizer Education Foundation in collaboration with the Salem-Keizer School District and the Salem Area and Keizer chambers of commerce, the awards celebrate and recognize the teachers, administrators and support staff who exceed all expectations of their profession and who engage community in their work. Nominations come from community members, students and parents.

Since their inception, the Crystal Apple Awards have been replicated in communities throughout the United States.

The recipients, including teachers at all levels, instructional assistants and athletic coaches, were chosen from the list of nominees and honored before a full house.

“It is an honor to continue the community tradition started by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce nearly two decades ago,” said Brent Neilsen, president of SKEF. “The profession of education is truly worthy of this grand celebration.”

The Crystal Apples were handed out by Neilsen; Christy Perry, superintendent of Salem-Keizer Schools; Bob Zielinski, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce; Brent DeHart, president of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce; and Elaine Harvey and Jeremy Rand of Wells Fargo, the event’s title sponsor.

One by one, each of the 10 award recipients was called to the stand to accept their award and share a few words of their appreciation.

Recipients were: David DeRoest, Waldo Middle School; Amy Divelbiss, North High School; Katie Gilmour, South Salem High School; Christina Gragg, Swegle Elementary School; Rebecca Hollen, Walker Middle School; Linda Kitchin, Parrish Middle School; Holly Rushton, Clear Lake Elementary School; Terra Shiffer, Clagget Creek Middle School; Jennifer Walloch, Early College High School; and Kevin Wise, McNary High School.

Parts of each recipients nomination forms written by others were read aloud. The letters spoke of how these educators changed their lives.

For instance, art teacher Katie Gilmour was recognized by a senior from South Salem High School who was considering killing her self before Gilmour gave her the strength to go on. She interacted with the student and took a moment our of her day to tell the student how much she appreciated her art and hard work.

“She saved me,” the announcer said, quoting the student. “She actually saved me.”

The sixth annual Crystal Apple Business partner award was given to Corban University, represented by University President Sheldon Nord; Griff Lindell, dean of the Hoff School of Business; Kristin Dixon, dean of Education; and Shannon Simmons, chair of the department of exercise science.

“We are deeply humbled and grateful to receive this award,” Nord said. “What a great testament to the hard work of our staff and the meaningful relationships and partnerships they have within our community.”

Superintendent Christy Perry said that while the teachers don’t always want to be in the limelight, this is still one of her favorite nights of the year because she knows how hard each and every one of the district’s educators works.

“They do it for all the right reasons and they empower our kids,” she said. “So tonight we take the time to thank 29 of them. It is truly because of you, that our children succeed.”

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate

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