Corvallis School District 2024 Golden Apple Awards

Corvallis School District 2024 Golden Apple Awards

One of the driving forces in our district’s continued improvements is the commitment of our staff to help our students fulfill their potential. To celebrate the work of Corvallis School District educators, the Golden Apple Awards were established more than two decades ago by local philanthropist Mario Pastega through the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

Last month, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation recognized four educators to celebrate their outstanding contributions to students and the school communities where they work. These awards celebrate that behind every successful student stands extraordinary educators.

Below are highlights from our nomination letters for this year’s recipients.

Dan Reynolds, 1st-grade Teacher, Mt. View Elementary School

Dan is an amazing teacher who has served our district for over 30 years. In that time he has served generations of students with kindness, caring, and respect (including some who have become teachers in our district!). Dan always sees the best in students and goes out of his way to celebrate those strengths and promote the status of all students, especially those who are most marginalized in our community. He helps students feel valued and respected for who they are and makes sure that they feel at home and comfortable in our school community. His belief in all student’s capacity to learn and grow is inspirational, and his ability to relate, connect, and find ways for students to learn and express what they know in different ways, is a gift to our community. 

Dan is also an outstanding mentor who has helped others grow as people and educators. His quiet leadership often goes unseen but his actions and words have had more impact than can be expressed in a few paragraphs. His skill as an educator and commitment to his values of inclusion, equity, and excellence have made a huge difference for so many children in our community over his years of service. Dan is a great person and teacher! 

Golden Apple winner Dan Reynolds with district and Mt. View staff, school board member, and members of the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

Kathleen Smith, Orchestra and Band Teacher, Linus Pauling Middle School

Over the years she has worked in the school district, Kathleen has always put her students at the center of her teaching. She uses her humor and endless patience to bring out the best in her students. Her teaching style is tremendously engaging and she makes each student feel important. Kathleen encourages her students to think deeply and creates academic challenges that her students are eager to rise to, always encouraging her students to actively work towards becoming lifelong learners and musicians. 

While juggling a wide variety of music classes and skill levels, Ms. Smith is able to connect with students in a way that makes them feel seen. She can seamlessly accommodate students with differing levels of experience, allowing every student to feel like a true musician. She is skilled at motivating students to learn, step outside their comfort zones, and try new things. 

She spends time finding challenging and equitable performance opportunities for all of her students. During concerts, Kathleen continues to put her students at the center while also focusing on the community. In addition, Ms. Smith is teaching students to take an active role in their community through concerts, field trips, school-to-school performances, and other community experiences.

Golden Apple winner Kathleen Smith with district and Linus Pauling staff, and members of the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

Malia Hee, Science Teacher, Crescent Valley High School

Malia is a wonderful teacher who has inspired many a student to pursue a career in biology. She works tirelessly to create engaging, hands-on activities that kids find to be really fun and educational. 

She is often the first one here and the last to go home. Even with all the hours, Malia is always really upbeat and genuinely nice to her students. So many students say “I love Mrs. Hee.” It would be nice to recognize her for all of the years she has dedicated to making science really meaningful and interesting for our students.

Golden Apple winner Malia Hee with district and Crescent Valley staff, her family, and members of the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

Ty Smith, Behavior Support, Cheldelin Middle School

Ty is THE kid whisperer. He meets all our students with acceptance, encouragement, and genuine enthusiasm. He makes a deep, lasting impression on all the students he works with and has a unique ability to navigate any situation, no matter how challenging, with grace and compassion. He builds relationships with EVERY type of student and he is the heart and soul of our building. He is truly a gentle giant. He is also one of the most humble, unassuming humans you will ever meet.

Ty is more skilled in de-escalation, conflict resolution, and relationship-building than anyone else I have ever known. Ty is always there when staff have a question or concern, just as he is always there for every student. He has this grace about his conversations that allows a student to connect the dots as to where their behavior errored but reassures the student of their worth and ability to learn from their mistakes. Ty sees the student first, and the problem second. 

Ty also has an active horticulture club/plant therapy group that meets. He grows plants with students in the spring to offer staff, and he shares his love of music with students in many ways. 

Golden Apple winner Ty Smith with district and Cheldelin staff, and members of the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation.

Congratulations to our 2024 Golden Apple Award recipients, and thank you to the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation for this celebration of our outstanding educators!