Donning a neon green feather boa and a bright orange wig, respectively, Newberg School District administrators Terry MacElligott and Andy DeBois got the annual Crystal Apple Awards celebration off to a lively start June 14 with a raucous run- through of the year's many highlights.
The routine, which is best described as colorful for reasons beyond their attire, got the crowd of teachers into an upbeat mood, serving as a nice prelude to an event that was dominated by some more serious emotions, namely pride in a job well done and inspiration to do the work that lies ahead.
"We all want to be told we're doing a good job and a good leader will find ways to compliment the people they work with, so the Crystal Apple is nice because it culminates the school year," Catalyst principal Bill Rogers said. "They do a good job with that. It's a nice, feel-good way to end the year."
Rogers was recognized as a retiring employee after 26 years of service in the district and as the winner of the Crystal Apple for outstanding administrator. It was an especially touching moment because last year's recipient, Don Staples, passed away during the school year, which contributed to an emotional address from Assistant Superintendent Dave Parker.
Taking home the Crystal Apple for outstanding elementary teacher was Ewing Young's Dawn Reed, who was lauded for providing her fourth- and fifth-grade students with high-quality, engaging and relevant learning experiences.
The award for outstanding middle school teacher went to Mountain View's Kathy Mickus, with one colleague reporting they had seen the joy in her work grow by "leaps and bounds."
Newberg High School special needs teacher Jacob Peterson was named the winner for high school instruction, drawing praise for the trust he builds with students and families.
Mountain View's Gerry Mallory received the award for outstanding instructional assistant in recognition of his work to build systems that support at-risk students and promote their learning and behavior success.
Chehalem Valley Middle School kitchen manager Tina Senz was honored as the district's outstanding classified employee, with her proclivity for going above and beyond for students standing out most.
LeBlanc-Esprarza also handed out three awards that parallel the district's mission and vision, including the debut of the All Means All Award, which went to Joan Austin third grade teacher Diana Winter, who is known for nurturing her students socially and academically.
Taking home the district's Collaboration Award was a team of secondary Spanish teachers — Eileen Brennock, Araceli Chavez, Dakota Elder, Katherine Barnett, Lindsay Zolotoff and Francisco Benetti — who took it upon themselves to align experiences for students between buildings and across grade levels.
Dual Language kindergarten teachers Jody Jones and Jillian Perez were honored with the 21st Century Inspiration Award for embodying the district's vision of learning, which enables students to be collaborative, communicate, think critically, create and develop into a contributing citizen.
Among the 16 retiring employees honored at the event was communications coordinator Claudia Stewart, who had her 25-year career summed up in numbers by LeBlanc-Espraza, including 1,940 print and digital publications, 444 school board meetings, 18 Crystal Apple events, 17 websites, 16 social media accounts, seven superintendents and three successful bond elections.
Stewart was among the retiring employees that, following district tradition, took to the stage to mark the end of the school year and their careers by ringing handbells in unison.