Category: Champion

Our goal is to champion New Mexico teachers’ success and an inspiring vision for the profession in the 21st century, so that they, in turn, can champion the success of their students.

As Secretary, I visited all 89 school districts. This is what I learned.

As Secretary, I visited all 89 school districts. This is what I learned.

Yes, Our Students Are On The Rise: Reflections From 89 School District Visits-Christopher Ruszkowski

“There are so many schools that are demonstrating what is possible for all students regardless of socioeconomic status. . . . We must learn from them and many, many others.”

During my first week on the job last summer, teachers, superintendents, parents, and educational leaders implored me to “get out there” and talk to teachers in their classrooms, sit in desks with our students, focus on all of the positive things happening in our schools, and ensure more stakeholders have a voice in the policymaking and program development process.  After eighteen months on the road, and after visiting all 89 of New Mexico’s school districts and hundreds of schools including many of our state’s charter schools, I think back to that early encouragement with appreciation.

Our school communities across New Mexico are as vibrant as the state itself. I was there for Friday night lights in Eunice in their new football stadium, an early morning on the school bus in Newcomb in Central Consolidated, academic parent-teacher team night in Espanola, a visit to a Pre-K center in Bernalillo, a regular afternoon with the students of Columbus Elementary in Deming, the first day of a longer school year at Los Padillas Elementary in the South Valley, and a #NAEP2019 campaign launch (for the assessment that determines our national ranking) at Cien Aguas International Charter School near the Sunport earlier this fall, to name just a few. 

Based on input from the field, we launched the NM-True Straight-A Express, which visited and celebrated 100+ schools in New Mexico and has now been in-place for the past two years.  No district brought the noise and school spirit quite like Los Lunas, although the students and faculty of Cloudcroft held their own on top of the mountain and my recent stop in Fort Sumner showcased their fun-loving, no excuses attitude (yes, both at the same time).  I was wowed by the performances (and the academic rigor) at New Mexico School for the Arts and was impressed by charter schools like the single-gender Coral Community Charter School that maximize every inch of their non-traditional facility. 

“Get out there” was good advice—because it challenges so much of the wrongheaded, deficit-based, political rhetoric that we heard on the campaign trail in 2018 or that we consistently hear from the special interest groups that have been roaming the halls of the Roundhouse for decades.  There are so many schools that are demonstrating what is possible for all students regardless of socioeconomic status—perhaps most notably in the Gadsden Independent School District and at the K-12 charter school Mission Achievement and Success in Albuquerque.  We must learn from them and many, many others.  Certainly no two districts and no two schools in New Mexico are the same, but many of their best practices in improving student achievement are.  Whether at Jose Barrios Elementary in Silver City, San Lorenzo Elementary in Cobre Consolidated, El Capitan Elementary in Roswell or Gil Sanchez Elementary School in Belen, or within districts like Farmington and Gallup and Hobbs that have made systemic improvements, common themes emerge: the highest of expectations for all students, data-informed, data-driven practices, a growth mindset that permeates the culture and is embodied by principals and teachers, building student ownership in mastery of the content, finding ways to extend learning time beyond the traditional classroom hours, a focus on talent recruitment and development, and a spirit of innovation that coexists with the fundamentals of teaching and learning.  During this time, I’ve listened and learned about what is working in schools in New Mexico and looked to find ways to spread those lessons near and far.

And because of our collective commitment to identifying our state’s highest-performing teachers these past five years (those achieving two years of student achievement growth in single year!), I have been able to visit those teachers’ classrooms to study remarkable lessons driving significant student gains for students of all backgrounds in Tularosa, Loving, Bloomfield, Rio Rancho, and Las Cruces.  As the parallel-track NM-True Excellence in Teaching Tour began, I became even more proximate to our teachers, students, and families.  Now I was attending full lessons, bell-to-bell, in the shoes of our students—a Kindergarten lesson in Jal, a high school art lesson in Socorro, a middle school math observation with a Golden Apple teacher in APS.  My late afternoon classroom observation of Ms. Romero’s first-grade class in Pojoaque stands-out as some of the best early elementary instruction I’ve seen in the past decade—and a testament to how teacher quality changes students’ lives.  New Mexico’s teacher leader networks are now bringing those teachers together to share practices and ideas about teaching and the teaching profession, and their excellence will continue to spread and be shared.

My team and I consistently witnessed firsthand how the state’s most successful teachers and schools are relentless about using data and measurement, unleashing innovation in during and after-school settings, and are uncompromisingly student-centered in their approaches. These teachers and schools are often times dramatically altering the life courses of students from low-income communities, and they never do it by sugar-coating but rather through honesty and love (yes, we need more of that, too). This has been a constant reminder for us of just how much it matters for NMPED to be honest and transparent in terms of standards, assessment, and accountability — because of the civil rights, equity and economic competitiveness implications for all of New Mexico’s students.  And because we saw the greatness that was possible, regardless of student background, we also felt a moral responsibility to call-out, engage, and make additional resources available when students weren’t be well-served by their schools.  

I spent my days in Texico and Logan, Grady and Elida, Animas, Lovington, Portales, Corona, and Reserve—to name just a few.  I spent an afternoon talking with the entire faculty of the Des Moines School District, one of the state’s highest-performing, about their quest to be #1 (they’re close, by the way).  We held short roundtable discussions in Hatch Valley and Quemado, at Explore Academy and in Dora.  Listening to all 89 meant visiting and listening to EVERYONE.

And almost every week, I brought a handful of ideas back to NMPED in Santa Fe that came directly from an outstanding school leader or high-performing teacher across New Mexico.  We listened, and we responded: adding 15 days to the instructional calendar, launching the tour of our state’s best classrooms, the first-ever Excellence in Teaching Awards, moving from three to five performance levels on our early literacy tool, revising high school graduation requirements to focus more on CTE, raising the bar for teacher preparation programs, sending more emails and information directly to teachers and families, adopting new academic standards, a deeper focus on teacher mentoring, more funds for books and buses, launching more teacher-leader networks, and dozens more. 

About sixty really good ideas that impacted policy, resources, and implementation in-total—and none of these ideas originated in or around the Apodaca Building, home of NMPED.  Instead, they all came directly from the field. 

Our recent FY20 budget proposal to the New Mexico Legislature, the top-rated State Plan under ESSA, the expanding network of practitioners—each was formed almost entirely along vast stretches of road between schools and classrooms in our expansive and diverse state—during a time period when the best schools and the best teachers were driving educational policy.  I’ve learned so much from them, and I hope that they continue to be celebrated, listened to, and learned from.

My belief in the power and resilience of the countless teachers, families and students already doing the work of improving student outcomes has only strengthened.  New Mexico’s public education system now has the potential to transform into a true learning organization— informed by data, by best practices happening at the grassroots-level in our educators’ classrooms, by leveraging the power of raising expectations, and by continuing to consistently measure student outcomes.  Additional financial investment is inevitably coming (likely totaling $1 Billion during this decade, and already halfway there), and it will be our collective responsibility to account for proven accelerated progress in the years ahead.  To date, statewide, New Mexico’s student progress is unprecedented in the state’s history: 11,000 more students are doing math on grade level and 13,000 more students are reading on grade-level since 2015 – with Native American students improving their reading results more than any other group of students – by 8.2 percentage points. More students are taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) exams, the statewide graduation rate is at an all-time high, and college remediation rates are at an all-time low. 

New Mexico students are, without question, on the rise.

The truth about what works is out there—it’s already happening in New Mexico—our challenge now is to ensure that it is happening everywhere, for all students, every day.  With admiration and appreciation, I thank you for our service to our students.  I leave this office inspired by the schools and classrooms that are redefining New Mexico’s future. 

Teacher Spotlight: MaryBeth Britton

Teacher Spotlight: MaryBeth Britton

***Meet MaryBeth Britton***
9th, 11th, and 12th grade English
30 years in the classroom
“I am inspired by my students’ efforts to overcome personal obstacles in order to better their lives. Knowing that I am able to help them transcend day-to-day challenges in their journeys to become productive adults is very meaningful to me.”
Teaching has been in my blood since I was a young child. My grandparents were both school teachers and I understood early on the influence that a teacher could have on a student’s life. I felt the influence of fine teachers throughout my education.
I earned a B.S in Elementary Education from WNMU and began teaching at Glenwood Elementary in Glenwood, NM. I earned an MAT in Reading and moved up to teach Chapter I reading classes at Reserve, NM. I jokingly say that I am a small school specialist, as I have worked all but one of my 30 years in small, rural schools. I love having the opportunity to teach multiple generations, get to know families, and celebrate their many successes.
In 1994, I joined the Pecos school district, first teaching Chapter I reading and math classes. I have been a high school English teacher at Pecos High School since 1997. I currently teach AP English Language and AP English Literature, English 12, Freshman English, and Yearbook. Teaching is as enjoyable and rewarding for me in my 31st year as it was when I was a much younger teacher. I can’t imagine spending my time in a profession that does not involve working with young people and helping them grow as scholars and citizens.

Teacher Spotlight: Caroline Marrufo

Teacher Spotlight: Caroline Marrufo

***Meet Caroline Marrufo***
3rd grade
“There is nothing more meaningful to me than being a partner in teaching a child how to read. That is the foundation of all their future learning.”
I was born and adopted in Denver, Co. When my adoptive parents divorced (I was one), my mom moved to Mexico City with my 9 year old sister and me. My mom married my “daddy” when I was 3. We lived in Mexico City for 13 years. I attended a French elementary school and then a British school from 5th grade to the middle of 9th grade. At that time, we moved back to the United States, where I graduated from Santa Fe High School.
I attended UNM where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. I taught in APS for 5 years, then moved to Phoenix, where I lived and taught for 15 years. My 21 year old son, Miguel, was born in Phoenix and my 20 year old daughter, Mia, was born just outside of Dallas. I stayed home for 3 years with my children. We moved to Las Cruces in 2005 to be closer to my stepson. I have taught in LCPS since 2005, with the exception of 1 year in Wisconsin and 1 year at Mesilla Valley Christian Schools in Las Cruces. I have taught all grade levels from a 4-year old kinder to 5th grade, and 1 year of high school Spanish. I have taught in bilingual classrooms most of my career with the exception of my first 5 years at APS.
During my years at APS and in Phoenix, I was very involved in the teachers’ union, serving as a building rep and attending conventions in Phoenix. I also served as grade level rep or teacher rep for PTA on many occasions. At LCPS, I have served my school as Dual Language Lead Teacher, a member of the Leadership Team, and Chair of the Math and Science Goal Team. I just completed 2 years in Teachers Pursuing Excellence. Last year, I was a Teacher Liaison with the NM Teacher Leader Network. This year I am part of the SIOP Team at University Hills Elementary and part of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory.

Teacher Spotlight: Elizabeth Dorado

Teacher Spotlight: Elizabeth Dorado

***Meet Elizabeth Dorado***
9-12th Health and Life Skills
“The most meaningful part of teaching for me is learning. Every student I work with, every lesson I create, every unit I design, and every result I analyze makes me grow as a teacher.”
Born and raised in the east mountains outside Albuquerque, NM, I was identified as a gifted student early in elementary school, but by the end of middle school, I was bored with education and heading down a dangerous path in regards to the choices I was making. Before completing the first semester of my junior year, I dropped out of high school, deeply entangled within a lifestyle of addiction. Eventually embracing recovery and my own education, I became committed to helping others realize their own potential.
With my GED and some community college credits under my belt, I finally received my bachelors in Human Development with a specialization in early childhood education from Pacific Oaks College in 2003. I returned to Albuquerque with a husband and infant son, teaching 5th grade in the same community I grew up in. Just a few years later, we moved to Zacatecas, Mexico to my husband’s family where I taught English as a second language for several institutions across grade levels. When we returned to the Albuquerque area in 2008, I also returned to the 5th grade classroom as a teacher, and to the University of New Mexico as a student. After welcoming our second son to our little family, I graduated with a masters in Counseling Education in 2011 and started working as a school counselor at a state charter.
I love working in the capacity of counselor, but the classroom continued calling to me. When I joined the amazing team at Gordon Bernell Charter school in 2013, maintaining my classroom connection was a non-negotiable. I currently teach several sections of Health and Life Skills to incarcerated adults working towards their high school diplomas within the walls of the Metropolitan Detention Center.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Patrizia Flores

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Patrizia Flores

9th-12th Grade English Language Arts
16 years in the public education classroom
2 years in the college classroom
Patrizia Flores believes that all students are beautiful blessings. She works tirelessly to empower her students and build a classroom of love. Patrizia earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Biology from the University of New Mexico, and Bilingual Education, Gifted Education, Language Arts, Modern and Classical Languages, Reading, Science and TESOL certifications in Secondary education, and a Master’s in Biology from New Mexico Highlands University. For nineteen years, she has taught students from 3rd grade, 6-12th grades and college in a several subjects. Currently, Patrizia teaches Pre-AP 9 and 10, AP 11 and AP 12 English. Patrizia’s teaching is designed to be high interest and content rich using a thematic, interdisciplinary approach, so as to provide meaningful, connected and lasting educational experiences and learning. Further, Patrizia believes that nurturing genuine interpersonal connections is essential for student success.
Patrizia’s greatest joy is spending time laughing and being silly with her two beautiful children, Alessandro and Rafaella, and her husband, Chris! She especially enjoys traveling, reading, photography, spending time at the family ranch, keeping up with Yankee baseball, and relaxing with a good cup of coffee.
Patrizia really loves her job. She feels beyond privileged to be a part of her students’ journeys. Her students inspire her to work hard and to be kind. Patrizia’s soul’s calling is teaching

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Rena Stone

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Rena Stone

9th-12th grade

ELA, Journalism, and ELL

28 years in the classroom
“Teaching is a challenging career, and one in which I can make a significant difference in my community. The connections made with students, families, and community have long-lasting and far reaching effects. Teaching is a positive way to mold students by being a good example of a caring, conscientious community member.”

Rena Stone was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico and grew up in Portales, New Mexico. Being raised in a college town, the home of Eastern New Mexico University, encouraged her to see higher learning as an exciting and reachable goal. As a child, her parents worked hard to save the money to buy two sets of encyclopedias. Instead of playing outside, Rena researched, compared, and contrasted the information from both sets of books and wrote research papers for FUN! Learning was her first true love.
Rena earned her undergraduate degree from Eastern New Mexico University, after which she went on to teach in Tucumcari, Artesia, Las Cruces, and Hatch, New Mexico. She was also selected to represent New Mexico and became a teacher ambassador to the city of Monterrey, NL, Mexico. She taught first grade at Venustiano Carranza Elementary school. This gave her new insight and ability to relate to immigrants she later taught in southern New Mexico.
Rena later met and married Mark Stone and moved to the state of New York where she taught business plan and grant proposal writing to adults for a private business. After four years, she realized she was wilting so far away from her tierra natal and her beloved Rio Grande. Her mother had always admired Rena’s love for her state, saying that she was built from the land and the waters of the Rio Grande ran through her veins instead of sangre (blood).
After returning to New Mexico, she began teaching for the Mesa Vista Consolidated School District. She soon found the opportunity, thanks to Dr. Rudolfo Chavez, to earn her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Her emphasis was in TESOL, and she now holds a preK-12 license and teaches English Language Arts, Journalism, and ESL classes to 9th-12th grades at Mesa Vista High School.

NOW RECRUITING! NMTLN School Liaison Cohort 2018-2019

NOW RECRUITING! NMTLN School Liaison Cohort 2018-2019

What is the NMTLN?

The purpose of the NMTLN is to develop a set of teacher leaders who:

  • Gain knowledge about PED areas of focus to support student outcomes
  • Serve as their school’s liaison when other teachers have questions about PED areas of focus, such as NMTEACH
  • Provide feedback about PED areas of focus
  • Develop skills to support colleagues’ growth and development
  • Gain access to PED resources and tools

What is a School Liaison?
APPLY HERE NOW!

NMTLN School Liaisons hone their teacher leadership skills and gain knowledge about PED areas of focus and state policy. School Liaisons serve as the on-the-ground go-to person at their school site to help explain PED areas of focus and provide guidance to their colleagues. School Liaisons participate in virtual and regional in-person meetings. (See photos below!)

Who should apply?

Ideal candidates are solutions-oriented individuals who want to learn about state policy, want access to tools and resources to help them hone their craft even further, are continuous learners who seek out and apply feedback to improve, and who have taken or want to take on leadership roles at their school sites. NMTLN School Liaisons participate in the network for one full year, with the option to reapply for a second year.

What specifically do School Liaisons do?

NMTLN Teacher Liaisons is a regional model, where teacher leaders in the network come together with participants in their region two times a year for after-school convenings during the school year. The purpose of the in-person convenings is to collaborate with educators across the region, learn about PED areas of focus, build instructional content and leadership skills through meaningful professional learning opportunities, network with each other, and develop a community of support.

The regional convenings are designed so that participants will not miss class time with students nor need to spend the night. Districts will individually determine reimbursements such as mileage; these costs will not be covered by PED. The in-person convenings are designed to be highest-quality professional learning for teachers; districts will individually determine what type of professional leave teachers can take for participating in the NMTLN School Liaison program.

Additionally, NMTLN Teacher Liaisons participate in monthly webinars in conjunction with other teacher leaders in the state. Content for the in-person convenings and the monthly webinars focuses on PED areas of focus surrounding teaching quality.

***THE BOTTOM LINE: Every teacher should feel empowered to ask questions and share their experiences. You will serve as a point of contact, quite literally liaising between the PED and your fellow teachers. You will have access to resources and information you can share with them, and should they have questions, you will be connected directly to the PED to help them get the answers they need.***

EXPECTATIONS

Date

Virtual Training Session: Topic

Information to register will be sent a few weeks prior to each virtual training session.

*** Dates and topics are subject to change. ***

August 30

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

What Can I Expect from this Teacher Leadership Experience?
October 18

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

What Does Cultural Competence and Responsiveness Look Like in My Classroom?

 

November 15

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

How Does Education Policy Impact Me?
January 17

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

What Am I Doing to Engage All Families Effectively?
March 14

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

What Do I Need to Know About Supporting My Diverse Learners?
April 11

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

How Do I Keep My Students Engaged All Year Long?
May 16

Thursday

4:30-5:30 pm

How Do We Ensure that All Students Are Supported by Our Most Effective Teachers?

Date

Regional Meeting: Location

Plan to attend one regional meeting per round. Choose the location nearest you. Plan to attend all of your required meetings.

Regional Meetings

September 12

September 13

September 19

September 20

September 26

September 27

 

Santa Fe

Las Vegas

Roswell

Las Cruces

Farmington

Albuquerque

Regional Meetings

November 28

November 29

December 5

December 6

December 12

December 13

 

Santa Fe

Las Vegas

Roswell

Las Cruces

Farmington

Albuquerque

Regional Meetings

February 12

February 13

February 19

February 20

February 26

February 27

 

Santa Fe

Las Vegas

Roswell

Las Cruces

Farmington

Albuquerque

What are the benefits of becoming a School Liaison?

Participants gain a unique community of support through the NMTLN, opportunities to network with like-minded teaching professionals and PED staff, and share strategies, methods, and solutions to challenges. This is a voluntary opportunity to gain expertise and skills that will allow you to take on more formal teacher leadership roles. You can use your participation in the network as an artifact for your NMTEACH report.  Most importantly, you will participate in a movement – the first of its kind in New Mexico – to engage with PED and teachers across the state to raise the quality of instruction and outcomes for our students.

So, how do I join?

Follow the link to the form HERE.

Still have questions?

Contact Alicia and Kayli at teacher.liaison@state.nm.us

We can’t wait to hear from you!

-Kayli and Alicia

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Arcelia Guillermo-Rios

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Arcelia Guillermo-Rios

The most meaningful part of teaching is having my students become self advocates; measuring success in my classroom is more than numbers.  Success needs to be seen, heard, and felt.  Seeing my students taking initiatives in their learning represents them taking ownership, responsibility, and the drive to aim high!

My name is Arcelia Elizabeth Guillermo-Rios, born in El Paso, Texas, from a hard working single-mother family. Due to several life difficulties, our family encountered many struggles.  School and innovative teachers became beacons of stability, encouragement, and reassurance.  These experiences developed into a persistent and positive impact in my life and generated my interest in becoming a teacher.

I graduated from New Mexico State University with Bachelors in Education and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with endorsements in Bilingual Education. For twenty years I have taught a variety of grade levels, currently I teach 5th grade Self Contained Dual Language at Desert Trail Elementary.  As a bilingual teacher I strive to promote high academic standards integrating bilingualism, bi-literacy, multicultural development, and create opportunities of student/parent contribution, discovery, and empowerment.

In 2016, I was selected the National Association for Bilingual Education Teacher of the Year. The following year I became a New Mexico Teacher Leader State Ambassador where I continue to gain knowledge, resources, and support to enhance my profession.  Currently, I am also part of the Educators for High Standards and The Collaborative for Student Success: Aim High Fellowship. Through the Aim High Fellowship, my students and I have been developing skills in self reflection to promote listen and practice, learning the value of academic challenge, and measure growth as learners. To keep that optimistic spirit, we have been partnered with a professional athlete to encourage and inspire the students. The athlete is former NFL Dallas Cowboy Raghib Ismail better known as “Rocket”. It is a privilege to receive the support of so many caring people; this enhances my commitment and love for my profession.

Building Social Studies Materials and New Forms of Teacher Collaboration

Building Social Studies Materials and New Forms of Teacher Collaboration

The most valuable part of the Social Studies Dream Team “TeachFest” experience is the opportunity to step out of one’s own bubble and to interact with colleagues from around the state. The sheer breadth and depth of experience, both personal and professional, was both humbling and inspiring.  There were people from all over the country, whose experience ranged from business owner to Peace Corps volunteer, from law enforcement officer to U.S. AID worker—all of whom have chosen to work as teachers in New Mexico.  The ice breakers and conversation starters at the beginning helped foster a sense of community and shared purpose, which laid the foundation for productive collaborations.

I did my teaching certificate work at the University of Houston and have been teaching for 21 years—first in southwest Houston for three years, and now in Albuquerque since 2000. I teach all areas of social studies, but primarily government and AP Government.  I was the AP Lead teacher at Cibola High for the past 3-4 years.  My teaching partner and I were the first in the state to pilot the AP Capstone program.  I also teach a little beginning French when needed, and I currently co-author or co-edit 2 AP review books for McGraw Hill Publishing, Co. (5 Steps to a 5…AP World and AP European History).  As such, I set the bar high for all my students.

I think it is important for us as teachers to step outside our comfort zones, and to recognize that our profession extends beyond our classroom walls, our department and our school. At the Dream Team TeachFest, teachers from the largest high schools in Albuquerque swapped stories with teachers from tiny rural K-8 schools.  It was quite the exchange of ideas!  To gain a broader perspective regarding the challenges facing teachers across the state is to become more understanding and tolerant, much like the character education we do as social studies teachers.  And we had guest speakers with a range of perspectives as well: the Teacher Liaisons from the PED and remarks from Debra Marquez and Anthony Burns from the PED’s Instructional Materials Bureau served to reinforce the idea that we are part of education policy in a larger context, and that our influence can extend beyond our classroom.

Teaching can be a solitary profession, and for years the only way to extend our influence beyond the classroom was to leave the classroom. It is gratifying to see that there are now ways for teachers to expand their impact while still remaining teachers.  The fact that the PED Secretary-Designate Ruszkowski took the time to come to the event and listen to teachers’ concerns underscores the idea that we can and should look beyond our classrooms.  Though we may not always agree with his answers in-full, that he would take the time to have the discussion as a fellow social studies teacher is, in itself, a step in the right direction.  We need more dialogue, not less.

As new members of the Dream Team, the scope of the required lessons seemed overwhelming at first, but as the presenters and facilitators walked us through the process our ideas began to take shape. Our project facilitator was an effective sounding board for ideas and concerns, but also kept the conversations fun at the same time.  Though it took some time for us to develop a project appropriate in scope, we left with a clear picture of what tasks remained.  Despite our differences and our diversity of interests, the fact that everyone there had given up his or her time for the common purpose of creating something beneficial for New Mexican students is reassuring.

We will create materials that every social studies teacher around the state can use, but the idea of teacher-leadership in social studies and beyond, fostered by Cohort 2 of the New Mexico Dream Team, has possibilities far beyond that.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: John Turrietta

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: John Turrietta

It all comes down to the teacher’s relationship with the students, the knowledge and presentation of the material and keeping them engaged.  Along my evolution as a teacher, I have tried departmentalization, ability grouping, gender grouping, Whole Brain Teaching, and now a flipped classroom.  Yet it still concludes with me and my students.

From the time that I was in the 3rd grade, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher.  Standing in front of a classroom, presenting and interacting with my students is the fruition of that dream.  I entered first grade not knowing English, and exited 3rd grade with the goal of being a teacher.  My grandfather made it clear from the time that I was a young boy, that education would always be the right road to travel.  He added to my determination that I would, one day, be an educator.

As that 3rd grade student that stayed after class to help with bulletin boards, pound dust out of chalk, sort dittos, and just generally help around the classroom, I always knew it was about the learning.  In playing school with my cousin and brother, I gave tests and handed out report cards.  Who knew testing would be such an issue in years to come?  While testing is not everything it is a gauge of financial success in later life.  Its about the teaching for me.  The learning.  As a product of APS and UNM, I want to make a difference for the children of New Mexico.

As a teacher, I have never wanted to be out of the classroom.  That’s where the action is….where the magic happens.  That’s where I need to be; on the frontlines of education.  Every year is a fresh start to try new things with an entirely new group of students.  What other career gives you a fresh start each year?  There are so many ways to teach.  No one has a monopoly!

Next year, Rio Rancho will assign each 5th grade class a Chrome Book Cart.  An entirely new delivery of teaching! It is never boring and always rewarding and exciting.  Kids will never remember the workbook page, but they will always remember your classroom environment and how you delivered material.