Longtime R. Roger Rowe teacher and winning volleyball coach Jackie Mendez received a Crystal Apple Award for excellence in teaching May 15. This is the 26th year that students from the Del Mar Stake of the Church of Latter Day Saints have awarded Crystal Apples to outstanding teachers from the San Dieguito and Rancho Santa Fe school districts, along with other local districts. Jee Manghani, Rancho Santa Fe School board member, Donna Tripi, superintendent, and Garrett Corduan, middle school principal were in attendance to celebrate Mendez’s recognition.
Mendez began as a teacher’s aid and volleyball coach at Rowe 26 years ago. During that time, and since earning her credential and master’s degree, Mendez has been teaching computer science and other elective courses she helped bring to the school, which now include programming, engineering, CADD (computer-aided design), broadcast “Eagle News” and graphic design. She is also in charge of the school’s yearbook.
Known for her approachable, laidback style, but also her competitive spirit, Mendez built the school’s volleyball program into a renowned local powerhouse; Rowe graduates fill top spots on local high school varsity rosters and others go on to play for prestigious D1 collegiate programs. Mendez coaches fourth — eighth graders and many come back to visit long after graduation to visit Coach Mendez, whose influence on them transcends both the classroom and the court.
Tripi says, “Jackie’s positive outlook and passion for teaching and coaching young people is inspirational to students, parents and staff. We are so proud that her contributions are being recognized.”
Reflecting on her years of service at Rowe, Mendez says, “It was an incredible honor to receive the Crystal Apple knowing that after teaching and coaching for these 26 years, my commitment to my kids is still valued and appreciated. My greatest reward at this school has been the connections I have made with my students, as well as the lasting relationships I have with them long after they leave Rowe School. I am thrilled that I can have a positive impact on their lives but, more importantly, I want them to maintain a strong moral compass to guide them into a successful future.”