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6 high school teachers, coach win Crystal Apple Awards

12th annual program held at LDS church in Pleasanton

Crystal Apple Awards have been presented to six high school teachers and a long-time coach in a program recognizing them for making a significant impact on their students' lives.

The award winners from Dublin, Foothill and Amador Valley high schools were given the awards Sunday in the 12th annual event hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held in the Pleasanton church at 7800 Paseo Santa Cruz.

They were nominated by students attending those schools and selected by a committee of LDS high school students.

Teachers honored were Theresa Ochoa-Lionetti and Donna DeGiobbi from Foothill High School, Katina Lewis and Jeanne Morgan from Dublin High School and Brett Bower, Clif Simms and Football Coach Rick Sira from Amador Valley High School.

Crystal Apple Awards are nominated by students of these high schools and selected by a committee of high school students from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

LDS spokesman Ken Mano said the selections were based on teachers who sacrifice their time in serving and making a significant impact on their students' lives, those who take the extra time and care to look after each of their students and help them in their school career, while also giving guidance and fostering character values they deem important to living a good life.

Each of the recipients was introduced by the student who nominated the teacher, and principals of the high schools also honored the recipients with their remarks. Assemblywoman Catherine Baker (R-Pleasanton) presented the teachers with commendations from the California State Assembly.

Each of the recipients was introduced by those who nominated them.

Foothill High School:

Theresa Ochoa-Lionetti has been teaching for 21 years, 17 of those years at Foothill where she teaches math. Her passion for teaching started at a very young age, when she used to line up her stuffed animals in front of her and take roll, and make up math problems for each of them to solve.

Donna DeGiobbi has been at Foothill High for 15 years, teaching Freshman English, and Literature and Social Justice. Her nominating students said "she's a great teacher, friend, and truly cares for her students."

Dublin High School:

Katina Lewis has been at Dublin High School for 3 years, where she teaches Physics, Engineering, and AP Physics. When asked what her favorite Physics lab was, she said: "Newtons law when I throw sand bags at people." Needless to say, they have fun in Physics at Dublin High.

Jeanne Morgan, who holds a degree n chemistry form San Jose State University, has been teaching the subject for five years at Dublin, and is currently enrolled at Chapman University to earn her Master's degree in Education. She said one of her many hobbies is going to NASCAR races, which makes sense since her husband is a race car driver.

Amador Valley High School:

Brett Bower is in his first year of full-time teaching at Amador Valley High, where he teaches Honors Global Studies and U.S History. His nominating students said: "He is always so enthusiastic about teaching and gets to know all of his students individually and cares about each of them."

Clif Simms has been teaching for biology for 25 years, including the last 22 years at Amador. His nominating students said: "He is a great teacher who loves what he teaches, makes learning fun, and genuinely cares about his students and wants the best for them."

Rick Sira, who holds degrees in Kinesiology and Biology, began teaching at Kennedy High School in 1976 and became head football coach at Irvington High School in 1983. He was hired as the head football coach at Amador in 1986, where he taught Anatomy and Physiology and Physical Education. He later became the school's vice principal, retiring last year after 38 years as a teacher and athletic director, although he is continuing this year as Amador football's coach.

Players from past years joined the assembly Sunday in praising Sira. Justin Shriber, an Amador alumni said, "During the four years that I was a part of Coach Sira's program, I didn't realize that in the process of teaching us to win on the football field, he was setting us up to be successful on fields that were far more important."

Garret Tujay, an outstanding lineman from Sira's first year of coaching at Amador, came from Provo, Utah to attend the ceremony. Garrett is now offensive line coach for Brigham Young University's football team.

Principals from the three high schools also congratulated the Crystal Apple Award winners, including Jason Krolikowski from Foothill, Carol R Shimizu from Dublin High and Kevin Johnson, senior director in the Pleasanton Unified School District, who represented Amador Valley's Principal Thomas Dresher, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

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