SCHOOLS

PHOTOS: Salem’s award-winning educators walk the red carpet at 2024 Crystal Apples

A dozen educators received Salem’s top honor Wednesday night at the annual Crystal Apple awards ceremony.

The event, put on by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and Salem-Keizer School District, recognizes teachers, classroom assistants and other school support workers nominated by parents, students and colleagues for their transformative work with young people.

The 2024 awards had a record 97 nominees, who walked the red carpet at the Salem Convention Center with friends and family. The award-winning educators are:

  • Amanda Starkey, Teacher, North Salem High School
  • Christopher Feskens, Teacher, McKay High School
  • Gabriela Acevedo-Solis, Teacher, Waldo Middle School
  • Keelana Meyer, CTE Liaison, South Salem High School
  • Kellie Menghini, Teacher, McKay High School
  • Ken Ramirez, Security Field Coordinator, Safety and Risk Management Services
  • Lisa Olson, Library Media Instructional Assistant, Chapman Hill Elementary
  • Luis Oliva Barrientos, Bilingual Special Education Instructional Assistant, Chavez Elementary School
  • Max Price, Teacher, South Salem High School
  • Pat Ozenna-Lemay, Teacher, Cummings Elementary
  • Rubi Hovenden, Program Associate, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Shayla Brown, Counselor, Blanchet Catholic School
Emma Kubishta, Battle Creek Elementary, and family walk down the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Award event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Donna Lewis, Bush Elementary, and David Lewis walk down the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Award event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Jessica Shumate, Student Services, walks down the red carpet accompanied by family at the Crystal Apple Awards event held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Students show their support for their teachers while they walk the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Mackenzie Brown, Swegle Elementary; Ari, a therapy dog and a guest stop to get their pictures taken on the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Vanessa Perales, Grant Community School, walks the red carpet with a guest at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Linda Rodgers, Weddle Elementary, smiles at her fans on the red carpet during the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
An attendee checks in before the awards banquet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Attendees take photo booth shots before the start of the awards banquet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Attendees at the Crystal Apple Awards red carpet event held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Laura Huazo-Saavedra, St. Vincent de Paul Dual Language Immersion Catholic School, climbs the stairs with her guest after walking the red carpet to attend the Crystal Apple Awards banquet at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
A crowd of excited nominees shows their support for other nominees walking the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Rachel Tencza, Wright Elementary, greets her fans at the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Christina Nokes, Walker Middle School, walks the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Luis Oliva Barrientos, Chávez Elementary, gives his mother a kiss on the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Award event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Irma Decker, Washington Elementary, walks the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Russ Williams, Wright Elementary, walks the red carpet during the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Michelle Puckett, Leslie Middle School, was a popular nominee at the red carpet during the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Supporters show their joy at seeing cohorts walk down the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Michelle Puckett, Leslie Middle School, had a large fan section at the red carpet during the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Michelle Puckett had a large fan section at the red carpet during the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Danielle Luby, Lee Elementary, and her mother walk the red carpet at the Crystal Apple Awards event at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Attendees at the Crystal Apple Awards event enjoy their meal at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Addison digs into her dinner at the Crystal Apple Awards event held at the at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Kellie Menghini, a McKay High School teacher, walks across the stage to accept her Crystal Apple Award at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Ellen Yin, Mrs. Oregon America 2024, reads out the name of the Crystal Apple Award winners during the banquet held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Luis Oliva Barrientos, Chávez Elementary, accepts their Crystal Apple Award on stage with Andrea Castañeda, Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent and other members of the Salem-Keizer School Board at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
A Crystal Apple sits on Max Price’s table at the awards banquet held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Ken Ramirez, Safety and Risk Management Services, gives a cohort a grateful embrace after hearing the news he had won a Crystal Apple Award at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Pat Ozenna-Lemay, Cummings Elementary, accepts congratulations from a Salem-Keizer School Board Chair Karina ;Guzmán Ortiz on stage at the Crystal Apple Awards banquet held at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Rubi Hovenden, Curriculum and Instruction, accepts a Crystal Apple Award on stage at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Lisa Olson, Chapman Hill Elementary library media instructional assistant, holds her Crystal Apple award on stage with Andrea Castañeda, Salem-Keizer Schools superintendent and other members of the Salem-Keizer School Board at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Ken Ramirez, Safety and Risk Management Services, on stage with his Crystal Apple Award at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Keelana Meyer, career technical education liaison at South Salem High School, accepts her Crystal Apple award on stage with Andrea Castañeda, Salem-Keizer Schools superintendent and Salem-Keizer School Board members at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Max Price, teacher and baseball coach at South Salem High School, holds his Crystal Apple award on stage with Andrea Castañeda, Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent and other members of the Salem-Keizer School Board at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Gabriela Acevedo-Solis, Waldo Middle School, accepts her Crystal Apple Award on stage with Andrea Castañeda, Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)
Shayla Brown, Blanchet Catholic School, accepts her Crystal Apple Award on stage at the Salem Convention Center on Wednesday May 22, 2024. (Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

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Laura Tesler has lived in Salem, Oregon for 20 years and is originally from Flint, MI. Laura has been an underwater photographer for 15 years, and is an avid scuba diver. Topside, she has been taking photographs since age 12, and currently works on assignment for the Salem Reporter, and full time purchasing land for fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette Valley. Laura attended Oregon State University, and has traveled extensively all over the world and the United States.