The planned advertisement in the Herald depicting this year’s Crystal Apple award winners also showed this year’s selection for the Special Achievement Award.
At least, that’s what Jerry Holloway, a Hanford site official and education advocate, thought when he saw a copy recently.
“I kept looking around for that person until they were halfway through the introduction before I realized something was wrong,” said Jerry Holloway, external affairs manager for Washington River Protection Solutions and a member of the awards’ planning committee.
Holloway and 10 Mid-Columbia teachers were called to stand before a crowd of 200 in Columbia Basin College’s Gjerde Center Thursday evening so they could be recognized for their contributions to the region’s schools, from the connections some have developed with their students to the time they spend to advance educational initiatives.
“Seeing you here instills why we do this,” said Finley Superintendent Lance Haun.
The three large Tri-City districts, plus Kiona-Benton City, Finley, North Franklin and Columbia-Burbank, work with Educational Service District 123 to provide the awards each year. At least one winner is announced from each district, with three at-large awards also chosen.
Winning teachers are selected from across the K-12 spectrum and teach subjects ranging from math and science to music and foreign language. Some work with special needs students or in programs aimed at helping struggling students. Along with a crystal apple, they receive $1,000 and other prizes such as sports tickets, gift certificates and, of course, a box of apples.
Winners were formally introduced by their superintendents. The introduction was quickly followed by wild applause from their assembled friends, family and fellow educators. Each was praised according to what co-workers, parents and students had said about them.
Heidi Shattuck, agriculture teacher at Connell High School, is always there for students, even with a late night call about a sick animal.
Larissa Reza’s third-grade dual language students at Hawthorne Elementary School affectionately call her the Fish Lady for the aquatic theme of her classroom.
“I liked how during testing she pushed us to do our best,” Kennewick Superintendent Dave Bond read from a past student’s note about Reza. “She even made us cards. I still have mine.”
Holloway, who grew up in Grandview, was also once a teacher. He spent his first five years after graduating from Washington State University teaching in Portland. He eventually utilized his journalism degree, taking communications jobs with Fluor and then WRPS, but never forgot the power of education.
“I had the chance to see the difference education could make,” Holloway told the Herald. “We tend to take it for granted.”
Holloway is committed to numerous educational organizations such as the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, Columbia Basin College Foundation, The Reach Museum and Junior Achievement, said Bev Abersfeller, a board member of the Dream Builder’s Educational Foundation, which puts on the Crystal Apple awards. His employer has contributed $58,000 to the foundation as well.
“Despite a full plate and demanding schedule, Jerry is unfailingly supportive of educational initiatives across our communities, and he continues his support of these many programs long after an initial donation,” Abersfeller said.
Holloway, though, was more than happy to point the spotlight back to the teachers, who were the chief focus of the day’s celebration.
“They are compensated in the way they impact students’ lives,” he said. “This rewards them a little more. That’s why we support it.”