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Ferguson, Alpert, Auld, Kriz and Thomas receive Crystal Apple awards

Few in attendance were surprised at the names called to the stage, like Newberg High School mainstays Drea Ferguson and Paula Kriz, when the Newberg School District recognized its best educators and staff members with Crystal Apple Awards June 13 at Newberg High School.

Kriz, for example, received the Crystal Apple for Outstanding Instructional Assistant and is one of the most connected people at the high school, according to Blue School principal Dan Malone. by: SUBMITTED - Best of the bunch - Lisa Auld (from left), Mike Alpert, Drea Ferguson and Paula Kriz receive their Newberg School District Crystal Apple awards at a ceremony held June 13.

Retiring about a week later after 22 years in the district, Kriz is known for her dedication to kids, like the homework group she comes in early to oversee on every Wednesday.

“They just become one of her kids,” Malone said. “They were always in great care, which is why they asked her to read names at graduation this year.”

Similarly, Ferguson, who was honored as the top high school teacher, may have been long overdue for a Crystal Apple, although Green School principal Karen Pugsley noted that theater teacher did receive the Milken Teacher of the Year award, a prestigious national honor, earlier in her career.

“I have not heard one person — and I’ve been here 22 years — who’s ever spoken ill of Drea Ferguson,” Pugsley said. “You just don’t hear it because there’s nothing to speak ill of.”

Her dedication to providing outstanding learning experiences for students in the drama program, like its trip to perform at the Fringe Festival in Scotland in 2013, has become a hallmark of the school.

“She’s just such a consummate professional,” Pugsley said. “She brings the same kind of energy to the work she does with the curriculum in the school that she does with the work she does with kids after school. For me, it was a no brainer that she would get a Crystal Apple Award to just recognize the quality of her work.”

Unlike Kriz and Ferguson, middle school award winner Mike Alpert just finished his third year teaching language arts and social studies at Mountain View. Described as an engaging and funny, Alpert’s strengths lie in establishing strong relationships with students and motivating them to do their best, according to principal Wayne Strong.

“He wants to have things meaningful for students, the learning has to be important to them,” Strong said. “There’s got to be some reason they’ll buy into it and he’s really good at finding those topics that interest them and using those topics to further their reading and writing abilities.”

Antonia Crater Elementary fifth grade teacher Lisa Auld takes a similar approach, going the extra mile to create educational opportunities through book clubs and creative extracurricular activities.

“The fact is she goes above and beyond for her students,” Crater principal Troy Fisher said. “She’s always got time for every student and goes beyond academics and works with the kids on an emotional level building relationships. She’s an amazing teacher.

Dundee Elementary School secretary Shelley Thomas was not in attendance, at least physically, for the presentation of her award for outstanding classified employee, but joined the event via iPad.

In her nomination, Thomas was lauded for her gracious, friendly professionalism and skills as a problem solver and multi-tasker.

“She’s caring, she’s nurturing, she has a love of kids,” Dundee principal Lesley Carsley said. “She and her colleague set the tone for the office when the public comes in and that’s the first place they visit, so she works diligently to make the building a wonderful place to be and sets the tone for a positive atmosphere.”

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