Ten outstanding Santa Barbara County educators — including several from schools in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez valleys — will be honored later this month by the Santa Barbara County Education Office for their dedication to students.

Sponsored by the Santa Barbara Teachers Federal Credit Union, the annual Crystal Apple Award recognizes educators for their "dedication, instructional and motivational skills," as well as their "ability to interact with students, staff and community members."

The awards will be presented on May 23 during the Santa Barbara County Education Celebration. The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.

"It is truly a privilege to recognize the meaningful contributions of our Crystal Apple Award winners," said County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. "These special individuals have inspired and motivated students throughout Santa Barbara County, and it is our honor to celebrate their exceptional service in our school communities."

David Ibsen, an adaptive physical education specialist in the Buellton Union School District, and Shauna Juarez, a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, will be awarded Crystal Apples for certificated support staff.

Mary Cullen, a fourth-grade and extended day program teacher at Robert Bruce Elementary, and Peggy Kelly, who teaches 12th grade English and introduction to education classes at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, will be awarded Crystal Apples in the elementary and secondary teacher categories, respectively.

Theresa Bruhn — whose duties span first-grade classroom aide, yard duty aide, office aide, Spanish interpreter and ELD instructional aide — will receive one of two Crystal Apples awarded to classified employees.

Principal Hans Rheinschild, who oversees Oak Valley Elementary and Jonata Middle School, is one of two administrators honored with a Crystal Apple.

Becki Gonzales, third-grade teacher at Cold Spring School; Elise Unruh, performing arts teacher at Carpinteria High and Junior High schools; Naomi Sanchez, Los Robles High School teaching assistant; and Margaret Saleh, Goleta Union deputy superintendent, will also receive Crystal Apples.

More than 700 cases of measles -- the largest number since 1994 -- have been reported across the United States, including 40 cases reported in southern and northern California. While no cases of measles have been reported in Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties, a handful of local elementary schools -- both public and private -- are vulnerable to the disease due to low vaccination rates among kindergartners, according to the "Shots for Schools” website, which is run by the California Department of Public Health.

Reach reporter Mathew Burciaga at 805-739-2205 or mburciaga@leecentralcoastnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @mathewburciaga

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