In the News


Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal

An earlier version of this story was corrected Friday, November 4, 2016. The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation organized the Crystal Apple Awards.

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.”


Natalie Pate, Statesman Journal

September 20, 2016

The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation awarded nearly $40,000 to local teaching professionals at its 2016 Innovation Grant Award Ceremony last week.

The grants will fund projects meant to enhance learning for elementary, middle and high school, according to the foundation.

The innovation grants were created 35 years ago. Funding for the grants is generated from the Awesome 3000 proceeds.

Teacher grants were awarded to fund six special projects across the district this year.

Another $5,000 was granted for AVID,Achievement via Individual Determination, to support the expansion and sustainability of the program; the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Projectwas awarded $3,500.

The 2016 Susan Gleason Award was awarded to teacher Sherry Waters of Scott Elementary School. Her project is titled "Playworks Team Up" at Scott Elementary School and will focus on "leveraging the power of safe fun and healthy play at recess everyday."

The Susan Gleason Award honors the memory of a Salem-Keizer Education Foundation founding director and is the most prestigious grant the foundation presents, according to the foundation.

2016-2017 grants awarded to Salem-Keizer schools:

1. Closing the Achievement Gap for Students with Disabilities through Data/Technology,Award Amount: $7,090

  • Description: A combination of data and technology being used to develop a collaborative, data-informed culture to guide and improve outcomes for students with disabilities in the district. The purchase of technological upgrades will ensure that educators have access to real-time data measuring the factors related to student success.
  • Coordinator: Steve Woodcock & Chere Limbach
  • Department: Student Services

2. Educational Robotics,Award Amount: $1,441.82

  • Description: Students at South Salem High School will be given the opportunity to compete in the VEX Robotics Competition, a robotics competition that includes 13,000 teams from 30 countries. They will be able to purchase the tools and resources necessary to not only compete but also grow their knowledge of STEM subject fields.
  • Coordinator: Judson Birkel
  • School: South Salem High School

3. Restorative Practices: Conflict Resolution & Peer Mediation,Award Amount: $1,021

  • Description: A peer mediation and conflict resolution training for the seventh and eighth graders within the Peer Helpers/Leadership students program. The program will be offered through the leadership elective class and will provide students with the skills to facilitate positive outcomes with the purpose of applying restorative practices to restore relationships, repair harm and facilitate healing.
  • Coordinator: Pete Teller
  • School: Leslie Middle School

4. Students of Classroom 206,Award Amount: $8,689.65

  • Description: Humans of New York will serve as a mentor text for students to imitate the presented writing style. Students will use Chromebooks and Seesaw to create a blog, “Students of Classroom 206.” The blog will be a compilation of written memoirs from each student. They will publish their reflective piece in their digital portfolio. Three major benefits of this project are teaching students digital citizenship, collaboration and ownership of their inquiry-based learning.
  • Coordinator: Janae Grieb
  • School: Parrish Middle School

5. Leveraging Afterschool STEM Education to Connect the Elementary School Communities,Award Amount: $7,000

  • Description: Launching of a innovative afterschool STEM education program to include students from both Pringle and Lee elementary schools. Implement the curricula and technology to create a hands-on and minds-on experience for elementary students in the domains of computer coding, engineering design and English Language Arts.
  • Coordinator: Robin Farnsworth
  • School: Pringle Elementary & Lee Elementary schools