Valerie Kimmel-Oliva, teacher at Desert Knolls Elementary School, was honored with the 2016 MEEC Teacher of the Year Award. Kimmel-Oliva has taught science, math, social science, environmental science, nutrition, and pre-vocational skills to her students through allowing them to tend the school garden. She has also planned a variety of environmental awareness events, expanded the Gifted and Talented (GATE) opportunities on campus by presenting environmentally-focused academies, and has served as the school’s site recycling coordinator and MEEC Teacher Ambassador. “I know that she would continue representing Desert Knolls and the Apple Valley Unified School District, as a model educator in the field of Environmental Studies. She lives our mantra: College and Career Readiness, and is affectionately known as ‘Mother Earth’ on campus,” Schinhofen said.
nearly $100,000 to go toward drought-friendly landscaping and the construction of agriculture labs on campus.
Three students were also recognized for their commitment to the environment. Anthony Trujillo (Desert Knolls Elementary School), Charlie Colbert (Vanguard Preparatory School) and Kayla Allen (Granite Hills High School) were each honored for their hard work and dedication. “She (Kayla) has logged an unlimited amount of hours through campus clean-ups, helping me write grants, research, community clean ups, fundraising events to bring awareness to our project and even sitting in on meeting with administrators…She is truly a champion of this project, conservation and ecological awareness,” Chaires said of her student, Kayla Allen.
Congratulations to all of the students and staff recognized at this year’s award ceremony!