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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Union County to honor educators

Union County to honor educators

Fourteen of the best and the brightest educators and education staff members at public schools in Union County will be honored in a big way Wednesday at Eastern Oregon University.

The 14 educators will be saluted at the annual Crystal Apple Awards ceremony. The program begins at 4:45 p.m. at the Gilbert Event Center with a social. The awards ceremony starts at 5:15 p.m. A social following the ceremony will be held at Mt. Emily Ale House. It will run from 6:15 p.m.to 8 p.m.

The Crystal Apple Award program is put on by the InterMountain Education Service District. 

“The Crystal Apple Awards are a way for the IMESD and our local school districts to show their appreciation for staff who have served as shining stars over the past year,” said Casey White-Zollman, director of the Crystal Apple Awards program. “We often take for granted the work our eduction employees do each day, so it’s nice to take time to really recognize those special people who really make a difference in our schools and with our kids.”

The educators who will be honored include Cove’s Toby Koehn and Heide Thomas; Stella Mayfield’s Carolyn Erickson and Sharon Stover; Imbler’s Teressa Dewey and Becky Mullarkey; La Grande’s Susie Harris, Kathy Spears and Forrest Warren; Island City’s Terri Woodruff; Powder Valley’s Suzi Dixon, and Blake Jones; and Union’s  Dennis Clark and Norman “Nod” Palmer. 

The IMESD also conducts a Crystal Apple Awards ceremony annually for Umatilla and Morrow county educators. The ceremony for these educators was conducted May 15 in Pendleton.  

 A big bite

The following are bios of the winners of this year’s Union County Crystal Apple Winner:

Toby Koehn 

Koehn is a sixth-grade social studies teacher in Cove, where he’s worked for nine years. Koehn is passionate and committed to developing students and programs. It has been through Koehn’s vision and leadership that Cove created a school farm that provides unique learning opportunities for students throughout the year. It has also been through Koehn’s leadership that Cove’s Ag/FFA program is recognized as one of the state’s best. 

Heide Thomas 

Thomas is an educational assistant in Cove, where she’s worked for 22 years. Thomas is an asset to Cove’s elementary teachers and special education department. Thomas conducts herself as a professional and cares for the welfare and safety of Cove students.

Carolyn Erickson 

Erickson is a middle school math and science teacher at Stella Mayfield Elementary, and has worked in the Elgin School District for nine years. By taking on the two content areas, Erickson has been able to integrate mathematics into science and science into mathematics. The level of her students’ learning continues to increase each year as a result of her hard work in developing a curriculum that addresses all the critical areas of student learning. 

Sharon Stover 

Stover is an educational assistant/SPED at Stella Mayfield Elementary School, and has worked in the Elgin School District for 10 years. Stover has been instrumental in keeping the special education program at Stella Mayfield organized, student records up to date, and student moral on a positive focus. Stover is always willing to help meet the organizational needs of her small school, and will work in areas new to her at the drop of a hat. 

Teressa Dewey 

Dewey is the deputy clerk for the Imbler Charter School, and has been with the district for 16 years. During that time, she has also coached junior high volleyball and basketball and is one of the top organizers for any needed school event or activity. Dewey is the counselor for students, staff and the community and can resolve any problem. Dewey is a big advocate for any child in danger of falling through the cracks. She also makes certain the principal and superintendent have all of their required paperwork and meeting agenda materials submitted on time.

Becky Mullarkey 

Mullarkey is a teacher for the Imbler Charter School, where she’s worked for nine years. She is Imbler’s music department teacher who provides band and choir instruction for students K-12, as well as coordinates a pep band and student performance throughout the year. Mullarkey also provides instruction in a daily art class, as well as math instruction for grades 9-12. Mullarkey does a great job developing skill levels with these students to assist them in their math education.

Susie Harris 

Harris is the fiscal officer at La Grande High School, and has been with the La Grande School District for 19 years. Harris’ career began as a volunteer and progressed to a paraeducator, attendance secretary, computer lab assistant, library assistant and to her current position. Harris contributes to her community by founding a non-profit organization called ”Impact 100.” The members contribute $100 a year and meet annually to review requests for donations. 

Kathy Spears

Spears is a paraeducator at Greenwood Elementary, and has worked for the La Grande School District for 31 years. Spears is extremely child centered and connects with kids on a personal level. She has an extremely varied work schedule as she supervises in the cafeteria, runs the MealTime program, works with groups of students for academic interventions, is the bus stop supervisor, and helps out in the office. She routinely goes above and beyond her regular duties, especially if it means helping kids. 

Forrest Warren 

Warren is a fifth-grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary, and has been with the La Grande School District for 27 years. Forrest’s colleagues describe him as organized, passionate, hard-working, and determined. Warren seeks to serve not just the child in his classroom but also the family as a whole, to help all involved be more successful.

Terri Woodruff 

Woodruff is a first-grade teacher at Island City Elementary, and has been with the La Grande School District for 37 years. During this time in La Grande, Woodruff has taught at every grade level from K-6. During her tenure, Woodruff has personally and positively impacted the lives of more 1,100 students in La Grande School District. Woodruff’s thoughtful approach, rather than being strictly teacher directed, encourages students to experiment, to problem solve and to think for themselves. Thus, her students not only become learners, but more reflective learners.

Suzi Dixon 

Dixon is a Title I Coordinator and teacher at Powder Valley Charter School, where she’s been for four years. Dixon coordinates the Title I program in North Powder. She works very well with others on the staff, which is necessary when coordinating student service K-12. Dixon is well-liked by the staff and many look to her for guidance when preparing materials the students need for their grade levels. Dixon’s instruction is based on specific skills needed by each of the students based on test information. 

Blake Jones 

Jones is a math and engineering teacher at Powder Valley Charter School, where he’s worked for 22 years. Jones believes in “hand-on” experiences, and the students have strengthened their skills through personal experiences. He also has time for the student questions, is patient with responses, and continues to instruct until he sees clarity with their responses. 

Dennis Clark

Clark is an agriculture and science teacher at Union School, where he’s worked for 30 years. Clark can also add Union County Educator of the Year to his resume as a past titleholder. More important to Clark, however, is the sense of respect and caring that his students and his peers feel toward him. Clark has brought a sense of unity and cohesion to the agricultural science teachers in Union County and elsewhere – that will be his legacy.

Norman “Nod” Palmer 

Palmer is a science and technology teacher at Union School, where he’s been for 21 years. Under Palmer’s guidance, the students of UHS have earned scholarships through robotics competitions, as well as competing at numerous state level competitions with great success. The loss of Palmer to the school district will be difficult to overcome. His passion, energy to undertake new projects, care for his students, and overall presence in the building will not be easily replaced. 

 
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