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Support Person of the Year Award Presented to Araceli Rigney

R.E. Jewell dual immersion educational assistant named 2023 Support Person of the Year during first student assembly of the school year

Article Date: Oct 11, 2023

R.E. Jewell Elementary School dual immersion educational assistant Araceli Rigney was named Support Person of the Year for Bend-La Pine Schools today. Rigney was surprised along with staff and students during the first student assembly of the school year.

“I’m honored. Thank you,” Rigney said. “If it wasn’t for you all, my peers, my students, I wouldn’t be here. So thank you so much. I’m overwhelmed right now.”

Superintendent Steven Cook presented Rigney with the Excellence in Education Award for being selected the district’s Support Person of the Year. Dr. Cook was joined by School Board Chair Melissa Barnes Dholakia, Board Director Shirley Olson, district administrators, leaders of Oregon School Employees Association Chapter 6, and members of Rigney’s family. Kyle Frick, Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations for Mid Oregon Credit Union, presented Rigney with a $500 check to use at R.E. Jewell.

Rigney joined Bend-La Pine Schools in 2019 as bilingual educational assistant at Bear Creek Elementary School. She began her work at R.E. Jewell in 2021 as student instruction/Title 1 educational assistant.

R.E. Jewell Principal Jesse Rasmussen said, “Araceli supports the students and staff of Jewell with a smile and a wave. As a bilingual staff member, she uses her incredible patience and calming presence to support our Dual Immersion Spanish program with small-group instruction and push-in support. Our school would not be the same without Araceli and we are all blessed to work with her.”

Today’s surprise announcement is the second of three Excellence in Education ceremonies planned this week. The first presentation was Educator of the Year, awarded to Kate Tibbitts, kindergarten teacher at North Star Elementary School.

The Excellence in Education awards honor custodians, counselors, kitchen managers, classroom teachers, educational assistants, office managers, bus drivers and other district employees who have had a positive impact on students. The recognitions began in early June when Bend-La Pine Schools honored 77 staff members from across the district who distinguished themselves with their leadership, innovation, outstanding professional practice, and positive contributions at work and in the community. From that group, 14 finalists have been celebrated this fall.

“The three outstanding staff members we celebrate this week contribute in unique ways to their schools and the greater Bend-La Pine community,” Superintendent Cook said. “It’s an honor every year to surprise and honor this stellar group of Excellence in Education winners.”

The final award, Administrator of the Year, will be announced Thursday.