Mr. Walukonis changes lives. He had our done in 6th grade beginning orchestra and made such an impression on him that he is now in 7th grade advanced orchestra and steel drum band and has launched into fully playing three instruments inside 18 months. Mr. W is committed to getting these kids playing in front of audiences and getting real world experience. This year we’ve played at a community center, the Chasco fiesta parade, we’re opening for a Jimmy Buffet tribute band and so many more concerts! And these kids are GOOD! They won “most entertaining” at Chasco and got to work with professional clinicians at all county. This man’s dedication to developing young musicians is unparalleled. He values academic performance and requires minimums in order to play. He is the single hardest working teacher I have ever seen. He hems uniforms, transports equipment, works weekends and evenings and never stops seeking out opportunities for these kids. He has inspired our son immeasurably and he’s now playing upright bass, electric bass, and piano. 1.5 years ago, he played NOTHING. Our boy is now a straight A student who is working towards music scholarships all thanks to Ben Walukonis.
- submitted by Richard and Susan Duncan
Mrs. Jenna Moore and Mrs. Nancy have been a great inspiration in our lives. I am so grateful for everything they do every day for my son. I am never worried when my son goes off to school. Mrs. Moore has not only been a great teacher to my son but also, she has elevated him in Special Olympics sports and many other areas in his academics. She deserves to be honored for all she has done.
- submitted by Jasmine Lee
I would like to share a collaborative mural my students created over the last two years created from reclaimed wood. The piece, which spells bulldogs in ASL, measures 4’x12’ and is titled, “We all have a hand in this”.
- submitted by Travis Garrett
Melissa Kester is special education teacher at Starkey Ranch K-8 who decided to get creative when the district’s Curriculum Based Instruction (CBI) trips for her students. She created a coffee cart business for her students to work, applying the math and social skills they have been learning in class. The students take and fill orders from their portable Starkey Bucks Coffee cart for the staff at Starkey Ranch. This allows the students to apply the skills they’ve learned as well as learn on the job vocational training, all without leaving the campus. Ms. Kester goes above and beyond to make sure each of her students have significant gains each year in all areas. This is such a creative and fun way to create an inclusive opportunity for her students and provide Starkey Ranch staff with a little caffeine and love in their day. Hats off to Ms. Kester for being an innovative educator who goes above and beyond for her students!
- submitted by Kim Russell