RSF School honors extraordinary students, teachers

RSF School board Trustee Kali Kim congratulates a student standout.

On June 7, the Rancho Santa Fe School District held its second annual recognition ceremony, honoring staff and students for their achievements, dedication and service to the school community.

“This is my favorite day of the year,” said Superintendent Donna Tripi.

The ceremony was a chance to recognize R. Roger Rowe School’s students who won this year’s Association of California School Administrators’ Student Standout awards: Lawrence Morales-Diego and Kate Schneider. All 50 schools in the greater San Dieguito region celebrate a student that has excelled in the areas of arts, community service, humanities, courage, fellowship and science.

Lawrence, a fifth grader, received the award in the area of fellowship.

“He is the type of student that advocates for his own needs,” said Principal Megan Loh. “He is honest about the work he does and although he has to work hard to accomplish his goals, he is persistent with the task and inquisitive to complete it with efficacy.”

Lawrence’s teachers said he always has a positive attitude, is eager to learn new skills and is a friend to all.

RSF School Superintendent Donna Tripi presents an award to a student.

Kate, an eighth grader, also received the award for fellowship and her work as this year’s student council president.

“She has an incredible drive to bring her peers together to help our greater community and she also has a great willingness and ability to bring her classmates together at pep rallies and school-wide events that have fostered a stronger and more inclusive school environment,” said Loh.

At the ceremony, the district honored teachers Haley Bradford, Jessica Henke and Heidi Moreno, as well as nurse Helen Galvin.

Bradford coaches boys and girls volleyball and serves on the social and emotional learning committee as well as the strategic design committee, working on the district’s mission, values and goals. Tripi said Bradford has a wonderful sense of the needs of the school community, this year helping to renovate the teachers’ lounge, lifting staff morale in another challenging year.

As the single healthcare provider for the district, Galvin is a caring nurse who handles loose teeth, playground injuries, stomach aches and over the last two years, a global pandemic. Her office became a COVID testing clinic and Tripi said she has handled all of the ever-changing challenges with grace and patience.

Fifth grade teacher Henke is a great innovator, Tripi said, always looking for ways to enrich the student experience. This year Henke created a school garden for students, complete with a chicken coop, and helped students organize their first annual jogathon, raising funds for the Walking For Kids organization.

Moreno, a sixth grade teacher, was the student council advisor this year, overseeing their leadership and philanthropic efforts as well as the exciting reopening of the student snack cart. Last summer, Moreno also helped convert an empty classroom into a new library space for middle schoolers to enjoy called the Eagle’s Nest.

“I almost cried the first time I went into the library during lunch club,” Tripi said. “Students were playing games, doing jigsaw puzzles, reading books, working on a coloring poster and just having a fun alternative to the playground. It filled a need for so many of our students.”

At the recognition ceremony, the district also honored retirees Mary Liu and Lori Edwards, and parent Edna Lash for her work as the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation co-chair. Members of student council also got a special shoutout.

This year, RSF School District Board President Jee Manghani wanted to have a special board award that honored students who shine in each grade level. The award quickly came together over the last week with teachers selecting students who best exemplified “The 3 R’s”: Respect, resilience and responsibility.

Students celebrated this year included kindergartener Charlize Chen, first grader Mia Zaydenberg, second grader Avani Sunblad, third grader Taylor Lund, fourth grader Maggie Meier, fifth grader Ella Dye, sixth graders Melissa Ramirez and Addison Rogers, and seventh grader Shane Vinci.