13 Salem-Keizer educators honored with Crystal Apple Awards


13 Salem-Keizer educators honored with Crystal Apple Awards

12:17 p.m. PDT November 4, 2016

Selfless. Humble. Genuine. The type of person who wouldn’t expect an award, but deserves it more than anyone.

That’s how those who nominated Dinah Walsh, office manager at the Career Technical Education Center, for a Crystal Apple Award spoke of her.

“As an employee of any school district, you work as hard as you can with one goal in mind: to impact the lives of students in the most positive way possible,” wrote Mariah Fleener, Walsh’s co-worker, in her nomination essay. “(Walsh) is selfless, kind, genuine, and always has students’ best interest at heart.

“Nothing she does is for recognition or for the expectation of praise, but rather for the pure satisfaction of helping others succeed.”

Walsh was one of 13 education professionals from the Salem-Keizer School District who were honored Thursday night at the 2016 Crystal Apple Awards, all of whom received equally glowing recommendations.

The Crystal Apple Awards, organized by the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, is like the Oscars of local education.

Arriving nominees are treated each year to a red carpet walk, as well as live music from the Flextones.

Not to mention, all in attendance dress to the nines, corsages and boutonnieres included, and “fans” show up to cheer on their favorite nominees as they enter.

The event recognizes local educators, like Walsh, who provide students with educational options, go beyond their regular job duties to benefit students and demonstrate best practices.

The recipients — including teachers at all levels, education professionals and office personnel — were chosen from a list of 47 nominees, and honored before a full house at Salem’s Historic Elsinore Theatre.

This year was the 20th annual awards ceremony.

And like years past, there was no lack of love, support and pizazz at this year’s event. Hundreds filled the theatre; the energy was contagious.

Tom Hewitt, retired drama teacher, served as emcee for the event, as he did last year.

He brought the house down with attendees roaring with laughter at his school-related jokes and Carpool Karaoke intro. The audience cracked up and cheered as he read SJ Kids responses.

The awards were presented by Brent Neilsen, president of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation; Christy Perry, superintendent of Salem-Keizer School District; Scott White, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce; and Jim Bauer, president of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

The seventh annual Crystal Apple Business partner award recipient was Roth’s Fresh Markets. Tim Jennings, general manager, accepted the award on Roth’s behalf.

As tears were shed, cheers were shouted and hugs were given, the final lesson was learned — these educators received the big “Thank you” they deserve.

“This event is truly about honoring outstanding teaching professionals who touch the lives of children,” Hewitt said. “Our entire community appreciates the time, resources and energy needed to provide an exceptional education for every child, every day.”

Contact Natalie at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com

20th Annual Crystal Apple Award Honorees

  • Aimee LeatonLanguage Arts teacher, Stephens Middle School

“We have never met a more dedicated and kind educator … It is because of (Leaton’s) influence on our school that we are … proud to say we work at Stephens.” — Mari Vasquez and Emily Cunningham

  • Eric Bradfield, Application Developer, Technology

“Eric exemplifies everything that the Crystal Apple stands for! He is a reminder to us that not all teachers work in a classroom.” — Chris Forsythe and JoyAnna Forsythe

  • Jolie Gilman, Bookkeeper, West Salem High School

“Jolie Gilman is the linchpin of West Salem High School. Because of (her), all students are able to reach academic success at West … we will remember her always as an integral part of our lives.” —Yancee Gordon

  • Kim Siegrist, Counselor, Four Corners Elementary

“There is not a day where (Siegrist) acts in a way that demonstrates anything less than exuberance. Her warmth and serenity are balanced by her joyful banter and unbridled humor.” — Phil Decker

  • Michelle Mills, Counselor, Gubser Elementary

“I can honestly say Miss Mills is the best thing to happen to (my son) and me. I am truly thankful for everything she has done. She gave me hope when I needed it the most.” — Allison Davis

  • Joseph Dull, Custodian, McNary High School

“Joseph has put an entire new face on the way that our students look at a janitor… Joseph Dull has changed me as a person in life in many ways I don’t think he could ever see or know and I’m forever grateful for him.” — Tarik Naccasha

  • Marianne Silvestre,Instructional Coach/ELA, Roberts Early College High School

“Ms. Marianne has aided me and many others … allowing me to be where I am today: employed with food on the table. I couldn’t thank her enough. If that’s not someone who deserves the Crystal Apple award, then I’m truly unaware of such a person.” — Fred Arrendo

  • Dinah Walsh, Office Manager, CTEC

“Dinah’s genuine interest in the well-being of others makes that part of her daily interactions — and students notice. Her passion for the people around her and the work she does is infectious. Because of her, people thrive.” — Mariah Fleener

  • Tricia Nelson, Principal, Waldo Middle School

“Tricia has instilled that at Waldo, ‘everyone does everything.’ I encourage you to come walk the halls of Waldo. Come and see the lives that have been reached. Waldo is not just a school. It is a family.” —David Plotts

  • Jason Kline, 4th/5th grade teacher, Eagle Charter School

“(Jason’s) dedication to the teaching profession, and to his students, past, present and future, is beyond compare. I feel privileged to work with such an amazing teacher every day.” — Susy Kosydar

  • Monique Aguilar-Weaver, Spanish teacher, North Salem High School

“Aguilar personifies what it means for an educators to go above and beyond the call of duty, in seeing the (holistic) needs of their students and giving their all to meet and engage them wherever they are at to help them succeed in their goals and to feel accepted, valued, and appreciated for who they are.” — Samuel Skillern

  • Christina Pierce,FACS teacher, Waldo Middle School

“Not only did Mrs. Pierce teach us cooking and baking, but she taught us values and lessons like working hard for the things we want, ethics, being great, people, and doing and being whatever we chose to be in life. She was like my mom .. like all our mom … I’m a better person because of the life lessons she taught all of us.” — Kimberly Gonzalez

  • Leslie Van Meter, Social Studies teacher, Teen Parent Program

“Ms. Van Meter is an outstanding person and an even better teacher… She taught me my potential and made me dream bigger. I owe my ambition to her, because she helped me realize what I was truly capable of. I wish that every student got to experience the magic that happens within the confines of her classroom and I wish more than anything that she would get the recognition the she has deserved for so long.” — Estella Leilani Frias

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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