Area’s top educators recognized during Crystal Apple Awards

Statesman Journal
By Stefanie Knowlton

Ten educators stepped onto the stage at the Historic Elsinore Theatre on Thursday night to accept Crystal Apple Awards for their dedication to students throughout Salem and Keizer.

Five teachers, three instructional assistants, a facilities employee and a school psychologist received top honors at the annual Salem-Keizer Education Foundation event that recognizes educators for excellence. Parents, students and colleagues sent in 41 nominations this year, including a letter from parent Laura Garibay.

Those from Washington Elementary cheered for Instructional Assistant Yadira Juarez as she accepted her award. Juarez not only reaches out to her students with a big smile and positive attitude, she also inspires their parents.

“She encouraged me to further my education,” Garibay said. “She’s a great friend and good advisor.”

Two physical education teachers, Carol Lindquist at Washington Elementary and Rhonda Herbert at Myers Elementary, earned Crystal Apple Awards for motivating children to not only move their bodies through dance or the Awesome 3000, but also exercise their brains. Lindquist throws out story problems and vocabulary words to get students thinking, and Herbert started a reading program and volunteers for the Oregon Battle of the Books State Tournament.

“She is so much more than just a PE teacher,” said Herbert’s former student, Seth Erickson.

Professional artist and instructional assistant Laura Estes enjoyed one of the biggest cheers from the crowd when her name was announced. Estes is known for her interactive art projects and hands-on activities such as making tamales and salsa at Harritt Elementary School. On “dress as your favorite role model” day, many dressed up as Laura Estes, including one staff member.

“If you come to our school,” said bilingual teacher Kristen Taylor, “you cannot help but notice two things — the art on the walls and Laura Estes smiling, laughing and playing just like one of the kids.”

French teacher and activities director Lisa Shreeve was nominated by her students at McKay High School for her “undying love for her students” and all the long hours, including 15-hour days, she puts in to make sure they succeed. In French class she’s known for her silly songs and quirky dance moves, which help students make connections.

She also directs the student government class, where she encourages students to set high goals, including one who became a Gates Millennium Scholar.

“Without Lisa Shreeve, many students would have failed, fallen or not been able to learn proper skills, but her relentless effort to support all of her students shows how she is a pillar (of) student success,” wrote one student.

Western Oregon University student Bridget Rogers earned a Crystal Apple Award Scholarship to help pay for her education as she studies to become a teacher. Rogers was inspired by many teachers, including one who taught her to never give up on students who struggle.

And Church on the Hill earned the Crystal Apple Business Partnership award for their mentor program at Kennedy Elementary School.

At the end of the night, master of ceremonies Tom Hewitt told the 41 nominees that they were all heroes.

“Not the superhero kind,” he said, “but the real kind who goes to work everyday and makes a difference.”, (503) 399-6735 or follow at

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