IMESD Announces 2015 Crystal Apple Award Winners

Release Date: 
4/30/2015

InterMountain ESD is proud to announce its winners of the Crystal Apple “Excellence in Education” awards:

  • Mandi Parsons
  • Wendy Simer
  • Lon Thornburg
  • Jenny Zitterkopf

We appreciate the dedication and service these individuals devote each day to supporting education in our region.

The winners will be recognized at one of the Crystal Apple Awards ceremonies:

  • Monday, May 11 at Gilbert Event Center, EOU, La Grande
  • Wednesday, May 20 at Red Lion Hotel Ballroom, Pendleton
  • Pre-Awards Social at 4:30 PM, Awards Ceremony at 5:15 PM

Co-workers, friends and family are welcome to attend and help us celebrate their accomplishments.

The Crystal Apple Awards are organized by InterMountain ESD to recognize individuals who are working to make schools the best they can be for students.

Here are our winners:


Mandi Parsons – Classroom Assistant, EI/ECSE, 3 years of service

Mandi is compassionate, engaging and observant in her interactions with students, anticipating the needs of the children and delighting in their accomplishments. She quickly and easily establishes rapport with the families and children with whom she works. In her many tasks--conducting progress reviews, writing student goals, developing alternative activities and communicating with families—she displays the utmost professionalism and flexibility. She has been an integral part of the Autism Evaluation Team for two years. “Mandi is highly capable, always responsible and constantly working to find ways to improve her performance. Best of all, she always has a smile for everyone,” said a co-worker.


Wendy Simer – Executive Assistant, 32 years of service

The knowledge that Wendy has accumulated in her long career working for ESDs is something she is always willing to share. Wendy utilizes her exceptional skills and organizational ability to manage IMESD service contracts, coordinate home school, support Umatilla County and Union County Wraparound Governance, support special education directors’ meetings, manage the Crisis Flight team and more. IMESD Superintendent Mark Mulvihill said, “Wendy is one of the most skilled and experienced assistants I have ever worked with. In her 30-plus years in serving

Union-Baker ESD and InterMountain ESD, her leadership and knowledge have been invaluable. In particular, Wendy played a significant leadership role in the merger of Union-Baker ESD and Umatilla-Morrow ESD in 2010. Without Wendy’s perseverance, support and background, the merger would not have been as smooth. She has continued to exhibit those same skills with IMESD.”


Lon Thornburg -- Transition Network Facilitator, 10 years of service

Lon’s passions for children and technology have proven a great match in his position at IMESD. In his first year as Transition Network Facilitator, Lon was asked to build a system to support post-school transition age students, a challenge with no blueprint for which he has developed a framework to use with schools and state agencies. Lon is adept at creating systems for change and building relationships with educators that not only tap into the collective knowledge and insight, yet stir their passions for their work with children. “Lon has demonstrated exceptional leadership as the IMESD licensed Association president, especially with his input in last year’s negotiations. He is a consummate listener and an individual of the highest integrity. Lon exemplifies quiet servant leadership in all he does for the organization,” said Mark Mulvihill.


Jenny Zitterkopf – School Psychologist, 20 years of service

Through her hard work and cheerful demeanor, Jenny has demonstrated her ongoing commitment to ESD and to schools in Milton-Freewater. She participates in parent support groups, teacher trainings, school functions and district planning from early childhood through high school. An excellent role model for young people as an honest, hard-working professional, Jenny has consistently accepted more responsibilities and increased workloads over the years due to staffing changes and requests for service. The person who nominated her describes Jenny as, “a truly dedicated professional school psychologist who is a credit to her profession, her employer and the schools she has so tirelessly served.”


Congratulations to all four winners!


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