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Blanchet's Crystal Apple Nominees

January 06, 2023

Blanchet is proud to announce that two of our teachers have been nominated for the prestigious Crystal Apple Award.  This award, which has been on hiatus since before the pandemic, is given out to educators in the Salem-Keizer area who demonstrate excellence in their daily work.  Blanchet’s nominees for this year’s Crystal Apple are Mr. Harry Ahn and Dr. Micki Halsey-Randall.  

About Mr. Ahn
Mr. Ahn currently teaches seven classes a day at Blanchet in seven different subjects, including two levels of Calculus, an intro to Engineering class, a Great Books course, and other upper-level math classes.  Teaching this many preps in one day is a rarity for any teacher, but Mr. Ahn has asked for and accepted this assignment because he knows the value of our students having access to two levels of Calculus and the other classes he teaches.  A few years back, Mr. Ahn came to the administration and requested that we add an intro to Engineering class because so many of our students were graduating and pursuing an engineering degree in college.  He wanted to give those students a head start on their path to that degree and he also believed that some students who took the intro class at Blanchet may discover that the engineering path was not for them, thus saving them time and money down the road.  When we shifted to digital learning during COVID, Mr. Ahn quickly adjusted and began video recording all of his lessons.  He was able to share these with students through email (he called it Ahn Academy as a play on the more recognized Khan Academy).  Time and time again, Mr. Ahn has demonstrated that the success of his students both in and out of the classroom is his top priority.  Students who take classes from Mr. Ahn, on many occasions for two periods a day, will often comment, "He is a very demanding teacher, but he cares a lot about us as students and people, and he is always there to help us if we are having problems understanding the content."  

From the moment he arrives on campus shortly after 7:00 a.m., Mr. Ahn is here for students and ready to help them in any way possible.  His classroom is often filled before school with students who need assistance with last night's math homework. Although most of these students are seeking help for a class that Mr. Ahn teaches, it is not unusual to see students asking for help in other math classes as well.  Throughout the school year, students will seek his assistance in getting ready for a quiz, study for a test, or review a recent assignment to better understand the questions they missed.  On multiple occasions, I have stopped by Mr. Ahn’s classroom to see students working on problems on the board and explaining to the class how they came up with the correct answer.  He challenges students to be leaders in and out of his classroom and demonstrates this in how he teaches his classes.  Each spring when we forecast for classes for the upcoming year, he will chat with individual students to provide support and assistance in helping choose which classes they will take in the upcoming year. Mr. Ahn has the ability to motivate students to push themselves and take the classes that they will need after they graduate from Blanchet without directing them into classes that are too difficult for the student.

About Mrs. Halsey-Randall
Dr. Halsey-Randall has been a cornerstone of our science department at both the mid-high and high school levels for the past 15 years.  Dr. HR, as the kids call her, is the consummate professional who pushes students to be their best in any class, program, or activity she leads.  In the classroom, she has created curriculum, developed an outdoor learning environment, and overseen the introduction of our new mid-high science curriculum.  In her 8th-grade science class, students take part in a hands-on research project that is focused on a scientific question or theory that can be explored, researched, and recorded.  The presentations these students share with their class, parents, and community members demonstrate the deep level of understanding and learning that is involved with this cornerstone project.  In the past few years, Blanchet adopted and implemented the Amplify science curriculum at our mid-high level.  This new curriculum is more technology-based and hands-on for the students.  It also aligns with the new national science standards.  Dr. HR played a significant role in helping the school research different options for our curriculum, attended workshops to help understand the best way to implement the new material, and helped her fellow teachers as they incorporate the new curriculum into our classes.  

In the past two years, Blanchet has established a CEI club on campus which is led by Dr. HR.  CEI stands for Caretakers of the Environment International and the mission of the group is to exchange concerns, ideas, strategies, actions, and projects in the field of environmental education and to share environmental concerns.  This group has grown to nearly 20 members and is one of only two CEI groups in the country.  Under her guidance, the CEI group at Blanchet has completed many significant projects including removing asphalt in Blanchet’s parking lot to plant trees (six trees total over two years), building the first part of our community garden which produced tomatoes and potatoes both years to share, repurposing juice barrels to create rain barrels for our campus and homes, continuous care of our outdoor learning environment (OLE) on campus, annual work with Queen of Peace students on Earth Day to enhance their outdoor learning spaces, digging up trees that would have otherwise been cut down and moved them to a piece of land that was destroyed in the Santiam Canyon wildfires, assisted in the fall cleanup of the Mt. Angel Community Garden and developed and implemented a 3-day outdoor school program for Blanchet's 6th-grade students.   This summer the group intends on traveling to Indonesia for the international CEI conference.  

Blanchet is extremely proud and honored to have two Crystal Apple nominees this year.  Please join us in congratulating both of these teachers for a well-deserved nomination. In partnership with the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the awards will be held at the Salem Convention Center on February 10, 2023. 

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