IMESD Honors 2022 Crystal Apple Award Winners

LA GRANDE – (Release from InterMountain ESD)  InterMountain Education Service District (IMESD) and its component school districts are proud to announce the winners of the 2022 Crystal Apple “Excellence in Education” Awards. At total of 44 Crystal Apples will be presented in early May to deserving education staff in eastern Oregon.

On Monday, May 2, winners from Union County school districts will be honored at the event at EOU in La Grande. Winners from Morrow County and Umatilla County school districts will be honored at the event at the Pendleton Convention Center on Monday, May 9. The events include receptions, and winners’ families and friends and school district staff are invited. 

Each year, the IMESD partners with its school districts to recognize outstanding administrators, teachers, educational assistants and office and building staff for their dedication and commitment to students and for their willingness to go above and beyond their regular duties. Nominations are submitted over a two-month period by administrators, coworkers, parents, students and community members. Winners are selected from these nominations by school district administration.

“Celebrating the hard work that school district employees do each and every day in our region is always exciting during the Crystal Apple Awards. But it’s especially wonderful this year, since we can return to in-person award events,” said Dr. Mark Mulvihill, IMESD Superintendent.

The IMESD would like to thank the 2022 Crystal Apple Award sponsors:  CHI St. Anthony Hospital, First Community Credit Union, Rotary Club of Pendleton and Wheatland Insurance.

Below is the list of the 2022 Crystal Apple Award winners.

Award programs, which include biographies of the winners will be available on the IMESD website after each event: (If you need this in a different format, please contact Michele Madril

Photos of the winners will be available after each event – please request from

More information about the Crystal Apple Awards can be found at:

2022 Crystal Apple Award Winners

InterMountain ESD

Brandi Audis (Educational Assistant), Early Intervention/Early Special Education Program

Rhonda Dockweiler (Administrative Assistant), Teaching & Learning Dept. 

Rachael Olson (3rd-4th Grade Teacher/Special Program Liaison), Virtual Learning Academy

Jennifer Richardson (Graphic Design Specialist) Communication & Print Solutions Dept. 

Union County

Cove School District

Kelli Langford (3rd Grade Teacher), Cove School

Kelsey Stitzel (Secretary), Cove School

Elgin School District

Dena Ledbetter (5th Grade Teacher), Stella Mayfield Elementary

Tucker Murphey (Music Teacher), Elgin School District

Imbler School District

Tony Haddock (Math/PE Teacher), Imbler High School

Chrissy Wilhelm (Secretary/Substitute Bus Driver), Imbler High School

La Grande School District

Shawn Brooks (5th Grade Teacher), Central Elementary School

Amber Kessinger (Behavior Intervention Assistant), La Grande Middle School

Cindy Malone (Paraeducator), La Grande High School

Amy Pennington (School Nurse), La Grande School District

North Powder School District

Nancy Simonis (Paraprofessional), North Powder School District

Union School District

Karolyn Kelley (Agriculture Teacher/FFA Advisor), Union High School

Jodi Seale (4th Grade Teacher), Union Elementary School

Morrow County

Ione School District

Superintendent: Kevin Dinning

Tracey Johnson (Principal), Ione Elementary School

Stephanie McElligott (Preschool/Instructional Aide), Ione School

Morrow County School District

Superintendent: Dirk Dirksen

Katie Burton (Counselor), Sam Boardman Elementary School

Michelle Gale (Special Education Assistant), A.C. Houghton Elementary School

Lori McCabe (Head Cook/Assistant Custodian), Heppner Jr/Sr High School

Laura Winters (6th Grade Teacher), Windy River Elementary

Umatilla County

Athena-Weston School District

Superintendent: Ann Vescio

Ashley Tompkins (Agriculture Science Teacher), Weston-McEwen High School

Karen Webb (Secretary/District Kitchen Supervisor), Athena Elementary/District Office

Echo School District

Superintendent: Raymon Smith

Anna Bench (Classroom Aide), Echo School District

Shana Schmidt (Science Teacher), Echo High School

Helix School District

Superintendent: Brad Bixler

Tim Kahl (Language Arts/Social Studies Teacher), Helix School

Katie Zmuda (School Cook), Helix School

Milton-Freewater Unified School District

Superintendent: Aaron Duff

Melissa Cunnington (Choir/Drama Teacher), McLoughlin High School

Steffany Esser (Social Studies Teacher), McLoughlin High School

Jennifer Kessler (Lead Cook), Gib Olinger Elementary School

Heather Vaughn (Special Education Teacher), Gib Olinger Elementary School

Pendleton School District

Superintendent: Chris Fritsch

Tammy Hillmick (Paraprofessional), Sherwood Heights Elementary School

James McDonough (Maintenance), Pendleton High School

Karen Smith (Special Education Teacher), Sherwood Heights Elementary School

Fred Wolotira (Math Teacher), Sunridge Middle School

Pilot Rock School District

Superintendent: Troy Jerome

Lela Thieme (Science/Wellness Teacher), Pilot Rock Jr/Sr High School

Jacob Try (Music Teacher), Pilot Rock School District

Stanfield School District

Superintendent: Beth Burton 

Adam Lemmon (PE Teacher), Stanfield Elementary School

Michelle Reeser (Kindergarten Teacher), Stanfield Elementary School

Ukiah School District

Superintendent: Jim Reger

Thomas Conner (Athletic Director/Basketball Coach), Ukiah School

Umatilla School District

Superintendent: Heidi Sipe

Danette Prindle (Paraprofessional), McNary Heights Elementary School

Tim Young (5th Grade Teacher), McNary Heights Elementary School