2020 Golden Apple Awards

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are pleased to announce the 2020 Golden Apple Award winners.

For the past five years, recipients of these prestigious awards have been surprised at all-school assemblies amidst the celebratory cheers of students and staff.

While the 2020 award season began in this fashion, it wrapped up via virtual meetings due to school closures.

Julie Catala – Stellar Service Award

The first award was presented to Julie Catala, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Board of Directors, at a central office staff meeting in February. Ms. Catala, who was joined by family members and a dozen current and former school board members, received a Stellar Service Award.

This was the eighth Stellar Service Award bestowed in the Golden Apple Award’s 25-year history. The Stellar Service Award offers special recognition to an individual who has provided outstanding, exemplary service to students, parents, staff, and community members while promoting the goals of the district. “Julie supports the board of directors and the school district with a high degree of professionalism and grace,” said Superintendent Ryan Noss. “She is strong in both technical expertise and empathy, and that is uncommon.”

Irma Bañuelos – Elementary School Certified Golden Apple Award

The next surprise Golden Apple Award presentation came on March 6 at a lively morning assembly at Lincoln Elementary School. The award went to Irma Bañuelos, Kindergarten teacher at the school. 

She was recognized as a valued mentor in the Dual Language Immersion program, helping and supporting teachers as they build their professional skills. 

“Ms. Bañuelos holds students to high standards, and because of the love and consistency that she showers them with, they want to rise,” said fellow teacher Kara Olsen. “Being a kindergarten teacher is her calling in life.” 

Wilfredo Echeverria – Middle School Certified Golden Apple Award

Later that same afternoon, the third Golden Apple award was bestowed upon Wilfredo Echeverria at Linus Pauling Middle School.

In addition to teaching math in both Spanish and English, Mr. Echeverria leads the school’s LGBTQ+ club and is a member of the District Equity Leadership Team Advisory group. 

“Mr. Echeverria actively seeks out opportunities for learning,” said Nikki McFarland, Secondary Teaching and Learning Coordinator for the Corvallis School District. “He creates a classroom environment where both he and students can show up as their authentic selves.”

Gloria Kussalanant – High School Certified Golden Apple Award

School closures in mid-March disrupted the unveiling of the last two Golden Apple Awards, which were scheduled for presentation at Corvallis High School on March 17.  Instead, the awards were presented on April 10 by Superintendent Noss at a virtual staff meeting. 

The high school teaching award went to Ms. Gloria Kussalanant, Corvallis High School Spanish teacher.

“Ms. Kussalanant has an infectious spirit that infuses in her students a love of the Spanish language and motivation to immerse themselves in Spanish the minute they step in her classroom,” stated Paul Navarra, Corvallis High School assistant principal. “She sets an example for all educators of what a culturally responsive teacher should be.”

She is a leader in efforts to recruit and retain students of color and students navigating poverty in Advanced Placement classes. “Her belief that all students can achieve at a high level is truly inspiring,” added Mr. Navarra. 

Judy Storie – Classified Staff Golden Apple Award

Superintendent Noss presented a second award at Corvallis High School to Judy Storie, Learning Resource Center Educational Assistant at the school. 

“Ms. Storie has a knack for connecting with students,” said CHS teacher Eric Dazey. “She wins students over with her persistence, understated expertise, silly sense of humor, and patience.” 

She was also celebrated for her role as swimming coach. “Coach Storie welcomes swimmers of all experience levels,” added Mr. Dazey. “CHS swimmers always know they are part of something bigger than themselves, that there is room in the pool for everyone, and that there is no ceiling on what can be accomplished together.”

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