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School district bestows annual Golden Apple honors

It was a night where those in attendance found out just how loved the cooking staff at Harrison Middle School is while many echoed the same thoughts of how they enjoy going to work every day.

The Sunnyside School Board set aside time at its monthly meeting to hand out the annual Golden Apple awards to district staff members. The award is one that school staff and community members alike can nominate people for. The district hands out the Golden Apple awards every May.

This year there were 13 Golden Apple awards presented to district staff in a variety of areas. Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole presented the Golden Apple awards. The following are this year's award winners.

Volunteer of the Year

Dorothy Amundson was named this year's volunteer of the year Golden Apple winner, beating out six other people, including one couple that was nominated together.

"The person who nominated this lady said she adds a personal touch," said Cole. "She shares her wealth of knowledge about the real world with the kids. She is successful because she works one-on-one with the kids and devotes personal attention to each child's needs."

"I enjoy every minute," said Amundson, who volunteers at Washington Elementary School."

Amundson, a former teacher herself, encouraged people to volunteer more of their time in the district.

"It is worth every minute you spend," said Amundson. "You ought to try it."

Substitute Teacher

of the Year

The substitute teacher of the year award is a new category, said Cole. The award was being presented to recognize the hard-working substitute teachers who play a vital role in the district.

The winner of the district's first substitute of the year Golden Apple was Dawn Miles. Miles has been a substitute in the district for 18 years.

"The people who nominated her said she goes above and beyond the call of duty to be a seamless member of the staff," said Cole. "She not only follows the lesson plans given to her, she frequently brings additional relevant material to support those plans. She really cares about the students and the Harrison Middle School staff."

Support Staff of the Year

The first of two Golden Apple awards presented in this category went to food service department worker Leo Sifuentes.

"The people who nominated him said he's a great delivery person for food service," said Cole, adding that Sifuentes is known for being able to juggle many tasks at once. "We can all be very demanding at times and he seems to handle it efficiently and with a smile. He never lets us down."

The second Golden Apple award in this category was presented to Randy Morris, who works in the district's maintenance department.

"The person who nominated him said he understands how things work," said Cole, adding that Morris is known for his fix-it abilities. "He can fix it or tell you that it's not worth fixing. He works on our copy machines district wide-and that's no small task, as we make 13 million copies each year."

Secretary/Office

Staff of the Year

Outlook Elementary School secretary Anna Desmarais was the recipient of this year's secretary of the year Golden Apple. She has more than 20 years of experience in the district.

"The person who nominated her said she exemplifies everything we expect from the first line of contact with families," said Cole. "She always provides service to students and their families with a smile. She goes the extra mile to help them feel welcome."

Para-educator of the Year

Two district employees were presented with para-educator of the year honors.

The first of the award recipients was fourth grade Washington Elementary School para-educator Martha Bright.

"The person who nominated her said she is a natural at seeing who might need some extra help as she circulates through a room," said Cole. "She has high expectations of her students, but she has such a special, kind way about her that students love her for it."

The other award winner was Sunnyside High School resource room para-educator Maria Gomez-Santoy.

"The person who nominated her said she is respected by her peers and students and she never asks for anything in return," said Cole. "Her joy is seeing students reach success and she continues to be a positive influence for staff and students."

Specialist of the Year

The specialist of the year award went to a lady who is known for wearing many different hats at Sunnyside High School. Karen Shrontz, school nurse and health occupations teacher, was awarded this year's Golden Apple.

"The person who nominated her said she has great rapport with her colleagues and we consider her a leader among us," said Cole. "It has been said at many institutions, like Sunnyside Hospital and some of the nursing homes, that they would rather hire her certified nursing assistants over all other programs. This speaks volumes about what a great teacher and nurse she is."

"After 26 years I still like going to work," said Shrontz, who immediately rushed off to teach a class.

Elementary Teacher

of the Year

Chief Kamiakin Elementary School sixth grade teacher Jean Kilian was the first of two Golden Apple recipients for Elementary Teacher of the Year.

"The person who nominated her said she challenges students to reach high standards," said Cole. "She is a visionary and a staunch advocate for public education. Her students and our school are fortunate that she was called to teach."

The other award winner was Washington Elementary School teacher Kim Hatfield.

"The people who nominated her said students trust her and work hard in her class to be successful," said Cole." She is an outstanding special education teacher who always maintains a positive and caring outlook and has a positive rapport with all students."

Secondary Teacher

of the Year

Two teachers were honored with the secondary teacher of the year Golden Apple awards.

PRIDE High School teacher Kyle Sonnabend-Liberty was the first recipient.

"The person who nominated her said she puts in the time and energy to make her courses relevant to student needs," said Cole. "She is a mentor, active on the school improvement team and she continually seeks to improve student learning and achievement."

The other recipient of the Golden Apple was Sunnyside High School special education teacher Christina Peabody.

"The person who nominated her said she is one of the most caring, loving people I have ever met," said Cole. "If someone is in need, she does everything in her power to fix their problems. She is the greatest teacher in Sunnyside."

Administrator of the Year

It was a pretty good night for the recipient of the award for administrator of the year. The administrator of the year award is presented by the Sunnyside School Board. No other nominations are taken into account.

The winner of the administrator of the year honors was Outlook Elementary School Assistant Principal K.C. Mitchell. Later in the night, the school board formally approved the hiring of Mitchell as the new Outlook principal starting in the 2006 school year.

"This person has shown high energy, commitment to both the staff and the students at their building and strong leadership skills," said Cole." This person has been with the district several years and continues to strive toward helping to improve student achievement."

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