Excellence in Education Awards logo

Excellence in Education Awards

  • Congratulations to all of the 2023 Excellence in Education Award Honorees! Please see the photos from the event here

    The Excellence In Education Awards Ceremony will be in the Eisenhower Auditorium on Friday, April 28, 2023, from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM with the doors opening at 4:30 PM for appetizers, photos, mingling, and more. The cost is $5.00/person (nominees and two guests are free; children under 10 are free).  

    Yakima School District employees can be nominated for an award. Employees need to have served two years in a full-time role. Community members can be nominated for the Yakima Schools Foundation's Champion of Youth award. 


    • Crystal Apple Award: Five certificated, non-administrative candidates will be awarded (YEA, Coaches)
    • Crystal Apple Award: One building administrator candidate will be awarded (YPA)
    • Shining Star Award: Up to five classified, non-administrative candidates will be awarded (Teamsters 760, YABS, YAP, YEOP, PSE, YMA, YPTA, Exempt, OSG)
    • Shining Star Award: One district department director candidate will be awarded (YDA; certificated and classified YDA members)*
    • Champion Of Youth Award: The Yakima Schools Foundation's Champion of Youth Award recognizes s community member who impacts the lives of our students and empowers them to achieve academic and personal success. Nominees are seen as outstanding community members dedicated to strengthening public education, creating equity, and empowering students. They are committed to seeking ways to enhance student learning to ensure a brighter tomorrow.  


    *Members of the current year's superintendent's cabinet are not eligible.


    Nomination packets are due April 10, 2023, by 4:00 PM. There will be no extensions. Nominations can be made by students, former students, parents, community members, teachers, administrators, or school-related groups.

      Crystal Apple Nominees

      • This award honors the certified educator profession by awarding certificated individuals who positively impact the lives and futures of their students. Crystal Apple Awards are given by the business community in Yakima, not the district. The chairpersons of the Crystal Apple Awards this year are Carmela Solarzano and Drew Harris. The goals of the Crystal Apple Awards are to...
        • Reward excellence in education in the Yakima Public Schools
        • Encourage creative and quality instruction
        • Encourage the development of a positive learning environment
        • Encourage excellent educators to remain in education as a career
        • Provide an incentive for individual initiative on the part of educators
        • Contribute in a substantive way to the improvement of education in the Yakima School District.

        Tammi Beam, 6-8 Band and Orchestra at Lewis and Clark Middle School


        Lori Benoit, Grade 9 Career Choice at Eisenhower High School


        Mattie Cuevas, Behavioral Specialist at Ridgeview Elementary School


        Al Fischer, Music Teacher at McKinley Elementary School


        Helene Flores, Math and Leadership Teacher at Washington Middle School


        Heather Kessler, Librarian at Eisenhower High School


        Leslie Mahony, 5th Grade Teacher at Whitney Elementary School


        Jeffrey McFadden, 7th and 8th Grade Technology at Franklin Middle School


        Noemi Moreno, Dual Language Kindergarten Teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School


        Sonia Perez, School Nurse at Washington Middle School


        Emma Scherschligt, P.E. Teacher at McClure Elementary School


        Delia Mae Torres, Counselor at Barge-Lincoln Elementary School


        Elizabeth Tull, Instructional Facilitator at Barge-Lincoln Elementary


        Erika Vestad, Academic Specialist at McClure Elementary School


        Doug Kaplicky, Principal at Adams Elementary School

      Shining Star Nominees

      • The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding achievements of Yakima Public Schools’ classified employees. It honors those employees who consistently demonstrate outstanding work performance, exemplary leadership, collaboration, and dedication to the district and its mission every day.

        Erica Aparicio

        Erica Aparicio, Community Health Worker at Health and Wellness Education

        Evelyn Centero-Dominguez

        Evelyn Centeno-Dominguez, Retention Specialist at Eisenhower High School
        Cherie Choniard
        Cherie Chouinard, Cook Manager at Stanton Academy
        Jakelin De Jesu

        Jakelin De Jesus, Paraeducator at Adams Elementary School

        Amy Franco

        Amy Franco, ASB/Athletics Secretary at Washington Middle School

        Desiree Guilland

        Amy Franco, ASB/Athletics Secretary at Washington Middle School

        Stacey Kloepfer

        Stacey Kloepfer, Cook at Nob Hill Elementary School

        Kierstin Lybeck

        Kierstin Lybeck, Data Specialist at Nob Hill Elementary School

        Whitney McCulloch

        Whitney McCulloch, Paraeducator at Nob Hill Elementary School

        Normalisa Torres-Strom

        Normalisa Torres-Strom, Office Manager at Hoover Elementary School

        Sharon Williams

        Sharon Williams, Resource Paraeducator at Yakima Online/Open Doors

        Michelle Werts

        Michelle Werts, Cook Manager at Franklin Middle School


      2023 Excellence In Education Award Recipients

      Previous Recipients