Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer nominated Doug Austin for a Hemet Unified School District Good Apple Award.

Kraemer, in his write up to the district for the nomination, wrote how Austin, and his late wife Mary, started the Charles Dickens Poster & Essay Contest 15 years ago for the 8th grade students at Idyllwild School.

Austin recently moved off the mountain for health considerations. The newspaper ran dozens of letters of appreciation to Austin from the community late November and early December last year.

Doug Austin, Susie Capparelli and Matt Kraemer.

“He has inspired students by personally dressing up as Charles Dickens along with his wife Pat and handed out cash awards for first through third place for both essay and poster contests,” Kraemer wrote. “Students have submitted extraordinary works of art and essays over the years. In addition to this, he has sponsored the Mary Austin Scholarship Fund in which he awards three high school seniors $1,000 each for books or technology needs.

Above, Doug Austin with students at Idyllwild School.

“Applicants are required to have participated in the Charles Dickens Contest when they went to Idyllwild School and be college-bound. Last year, he came to Mr. [Mike] Van Zee’s social studies class as Charles Dickens and gave a biographical account of his life. The students were mesmerized by his performance!!”

“Doug Austin has truly given back to the youth of the Idyllwild community and has been a strong supporter and advocate for Idyllwild School,” Kraemer concluded in his nomination of Austin to the district.