HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR — Paula Greene, teacher with Sunnyside High School’s special education department, holds the cherished Golden Apple Award. Her work with the special population was noticed by Anne Concienne in which she stated, “Paula has dedicated her heart and soul into teaching.”

SUNNYSIDE — The winners from the Golden Apple Awards have been announced by Sunnyside School District (SSD) for the 2019-20 year – a shining example of the hard work educators and support staff have put in during a tumultuous school year.

The winners are:

Office Support Staff Member of the Year, Brenda Meyer.

Support Staff of the Year, Moises Hernandez.

Paraeducator of the Year, Jessica Chester.

Specialist of the Year, Tyler Rablin.

Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Veronica Saenz.

Middle School Extracurricular Staff Member of the Year, Bruce Lindell.

Middle School Teacher of the Year, Caitlin Smith.

High School Extracurricular Staff of the Year, Elizabeth Wiederspohn.

High School Teacher of the Year, Paula Greene.

Administrator of the Year, Holly Ohler.

All nominations of the winners agreed the selected had made a notable impact to not only their students but also their fellow coworkers in the district.

Sunnyside High School (SHS) teacher Paula Greene was nominated for her work teaching math to the special education population and in Anne Concienne’s nomination, she had said of Greene, “Paula has dedicated her heart and soul into teaching.”

Greene has “gone above and beyond working with this special population of students and many have come back in later years to thank her for teaching them things that made them successful.”

Greene imparted her utter surprise at the award as she was presented it on her 65th birthday, Nov. 16, 2020, by the District staff.

The high school teacher’s door was opened to allow for ventilation when Principal Ryan Maxwell popped his head through and asked to come in.

“And I said, ‘Ryan, I’m right in the middle of teaching! I can’t just drop it!’He said it would be fine and I told him no!” she added.

“Then all these people come in and I thought, ‘Oh, my god, they’re coming in to sing Happy Birthday to me.’ Next thing I know, I’m saying, ‘What the heck?’”

Laughing at the situation, Greene expressed how taken aback she was at the recognition and how she tried to hold back her emotions, moved at the nomination.

Another teacher who was said to go the extra mile is Harrison Middle School teacher Caitlin Smith.

Nominated by Liz Roberts and Ben Frisch, they stated in their nomination, “She advocates for student voice and choice; her lessons are rigorous, thorough, thoughtful – and always student oriented – geared to dial into each students’ progression to mastery.”

Not only has Smith adjusted her class to individual student need, but it is also said that she ordered, personally paid, and delivered books to students who needed them in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.

“(Her students) trust her and know she is working hard to help them grow to their fullest potential – especially in these challenging times.”

SSD has listed the recipients of the awards as well as past award winners on their district website.

“Congratulations to the 2020 Golden Apple of the Year recipients who were recognized in December with private recognition following social distancing guidance,” the district acknowledged.

Elizabeth Sustaita can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email esustaita@sunnysidesun.com.

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