Category: Growth and Recognition Opportunities

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: JOE DAN LOVATO

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: JOE DAN LOVATO

Being a teacher and musician gives me the platforms necessary to invoke change in the most positive manner possible. We develop life-long learners who are inspired to continue to learn with the mind-set to invoke newly acquired knowledge into positive change. As educators, we are agents of change who transform our students into the next generation of agents of change, and so the cycle continues. We are public servants who are given the task of creating intelligent thinkers who become positive contributors to society. This is the legacy that we as educators will leave behind for others to foster and build upon.”

Joe Dan M. Lovato is a full-time science educator and musician originally from Roy, New Mexico. He earned a BA in Education from ENMU in 2007, a MA in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) from ENMU in 2014, and he is currently finishing his Educational Administration Licensure requirements from ENMU as well. He possesses a Level III-A license in both K-8 Elementary and Pre K-12 Special Education along with endorsements in Science and Health. Joe Dan is in his 10th
year of teaching at La Resolana Leadership Academy. LRLA is a charter middle school located in the heart of Albuquerque. Along with teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science at the school; he also teaches the 8th
grade Next-Step class, the STEAM-H elective with a focus on agriculture and climate change, and incentive electives in cryptozoology, extraterrestrial/paranormal investigations, and a guitar workshop. The New Mexico Public Education Department recognized Joe Dan as a finalist for the 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. He was also nominated for the 2017 New Mexico Academy of Science Outstanding Science Teacher.
Joe Dan is also a singer, song writer, and guitarist who has played with a variety of musicians and he’s shared the stage with many different bands and artists throughout the years. He was a member of the local progressive rock band Blackwater Draw (2006-2015) and he has since embarked on a solo career under the moniker “Joe Dan The Man”. He released his debut, self-titled EP in 2015 with positive reviews and is currently working on a full-length album.


Joe Dan is getting used to his new job and title, “dad”, as he and his wife Brandi brought their first child, Joe Danna Lee Lovato, into this world. Much of what Joe Dan does at his small school revolves around the concept of family. Community, in essence, is family. He presents experiential learning opportunities to his students through the field trips and projects that he celebrates at his school. He has experienced many personal accomplishments throughout his teaching career; each with different magnitudes of gratification for knowing that the world is a better place because of the individuals that he came into contact with. His passion for knowledge and sharing that knowledge is contagious to others.

2017 Milken Educator of the Year

2017 Milken Educator of the Year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Lynne Russo, (818) 903-6079, lynneerusso@gmail.com

Hometown hero Melanie Alfaro merits $25,000 as the

2017-18 Milken Educator Award winner for New Mexico

 BIO for NM Melanie Alfaro

Deming Intermediate math teacher sets high standards leading all her students to excel

SANTA MONICA, Calif., (November 30, 2017)—Being a New Mexico State University Hall of Fame basketball player, Melanie Alfaro knows the sweet taste of success. It’s a quality she tries to instill in her math students, equating the similarities between athletics and academics as examples: set a goal and work hard to reach it. Using student assessments, video instruction and collaborative projects as part of her teaching strategy, Alfaro engages all levels of learners and gives them every opportunity to understand and grasp sixth grade math; her students lead the grade level in math proficiency.

Joined by New Mexico Education Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley bestowed Alfaro with the $25,000 Milken Educator Award before an exuberant all-school assembly, causing the Wildcats to roar with cheers after the announcement.

Alfaro is the only recipient for the state of New Mexico, and is among 44 honorees for 2017-18 to receive the national recognition and unrestricted cash prize.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching” has been opening minds and shaping futures for 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”

Alfaro immerses her students in data, setting individual and whole-class goals, charging students with monitoring their own progress, and holding family classes to ensure parents are fully equipped to support their children’s efforts in math. Deming has jumped two letter grades and 16 percentage points in end-of-year math assessments in the past few years.

“Melanie Alfaro gives every student her time, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group, it’s her keen sense of a child’s understanding level that determines her teaching methods and that directly leads to proficiency,” said Foley. “Melanie has outstanding strategies and outcomes in the classroom and we recognize her determination to influence mathematics instruction throughout the district as well. From elementary to the high school level, she is working to make sure every math student succeeds. We’re proud to welcome her to the Milken Educator family.”

“Our state’s best teachers should be championed, celebrated and rewarded—they’re having an outsized impact on their students’ academic outcomes and life prospects. Over the last 100 days, I’ve had the privilege of traveling the entire state to celebrate our districts and educators to highlight their work, and today’s recognition is one of the highest honors a teacher can earn in the country,” said Education Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski. “Melanie is changing our students’ lives by assuming full responsibility for her academic outcomes and constantly refining her craft—her teaching is poetry in motion and finds the right balance of the both the art and science of teaching.  She is a wonderful ambassador for our profession.  Her students are on the rise—and this honor and award is well-deserved.”

About Milken Educator Melanie Alfaro

Melanie Alfaro, a sixth-grade math teacher at Deming Intermediate School in New Mexico, holds all her students to high standards. She employs a multitude of instructional strategies in her classroom, including active engagement and collaborative grouping, and is trained on AIMS3, a state dual-language program that supports English learners. The school doesn’t have a gifted program, but Alfaro makes sure advanced learners stay challenged with appropriate course work and encourages higher-achieving students to mentor those who need more help.

As head of the math department, Alfaro sits on Deming’s school leadership team and was deeply involved in the formulation and monitoring of its 90-day improvement plan. She mentors teachers throughout the district, leads professional development, sits on the math pacing guides and superintendent’s advisory committees, and was instrumental in bringing former New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera to Deming to talk about the status of education in the state. Alfaro has advocated strongly in favor of the district’s sometimes-controversial policy of busing U.S. citizen children living across the nearby Mexican border into Deming schools. In 2016, she was selected to join the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network.

A Deming native and product of Deming Public Schools, Alfaro is an accomplished athlete who played Division I basketball at New Mexico State University and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2014. She has worked hard to build up Deming’s Little League baseball program, serving on the board and as president. Alfaro started a summer basketball camp and coaches basketball, t-ball and Little League baseball; the district offered her the opportunity to coach varsity basketball, but Alfaro opted to work with younger students to teach them the fundamentals and prepare them for higher-level athletics. In the classroom, Alfaro stresses the importance of both academics and athletics, reminding students that working hard at one supports success in the other. Students often come back to share their good news and accomplishments with Alfaro, telling her that they are top of their class, entering honors courses, and even graduating as valedictorian.

Alfaro earned a bachelor’s in business administration in 2002 from New Mexico State University and a master’s in education in 2013 from Western New Mexico University.

More information about Alfaro, plus links to photos and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/Melanie-Maynes-Alfaro.

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Alfaro’s honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2017-18 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., March 20-23, 2018. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards, www.twitter.com/milken, www.youtube.com/milkenaward, and http://instagram.com/milkenfamilyfdn.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 30 years ago in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

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TEACHER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK: Leslie Baker

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK: Leslie Baker

” I love creating a classroom environment where students feel safe and loved. Watching a child have that “aha” moment when they make a discovery or connect ideas still fills me with excitement and reminds me why I am in this great profession. I know that I make a difference every day in large and small ways.”

 

Leslie Baker was raised in Connecticut outside of New York City and has lived in nine states. She has been a New Mexico resident since 2002 when she moved to Taos to raise her three daughters. Leslie began her teaching career in 1989 in Chesterfield County, VA where she taught fifth grade; she later taught computer applications to kindergarten through sixth graders at a Montessori school in Ohio and home-schooled in North Carolina. Her earliest memories in education are teaching her younger sisters to read and helping her mother welcome 24 preschoolers to their home every weekday morning!

Leslie has worked at Taos Charter School since 2003, teaching second and third grade and now working with students as a literacy teacher and coach. She serves as SAT and 504 Coordinator and Librarian, in addition to the many roles and hats required at a small school. She especially loves mentoring new teachers and helping them grow as teachers and learners, and thanks her own mentors for helping her gain confidence and skill in the classroom. Each year, she feels she might be learning a bit more about this process we call teaching, which is really an effort to support learning and thinking.

Ms. Baker holds a Masters in Elementary Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts where she majored in Politics. She recently obtained her NM administrative license and is currently working toward her National Board Certification.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The National Science Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. PAEMST is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science (including computer science) teaching. Since 1983, more than 4,700 teachers have been recognized for their contributions to mathematics and science education. Awardees serve as models to their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. Up to 108 awardees may be recognized each year.

The PAEMST program is open to outstanding mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers in the 50 states; Washington, D.C.; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Education Activity schools; and the U.S. territories as a group.

Anyone–principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public–may nominate a teacher by completing the nomination form available on the PAEMST website. To submit a nomination, you’ll need the teacher’s name, email address, and school contact information. If you know more than one teacher deserving of this award, you may submit more than one nomination. Teachers may also apply directly at www.paemst.org.

Presidential awardees receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on the behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The Nomination Deadline is April 1, 2018 and the Application Deadline is May 1, 2018, for elementary school teachers (grades K-6). Secondary school teachers (grades 7-12) will be eligible to apply during a future cycle.

If you have any questions, please contact Shafiq Chaudhary, Math State Coordinator at shafiq.chaudhary@state.nm.us or Marcia Barton, Science State Coordinator at marcia.barton@state.nm.us. Thank you.

505 SW NM-True $5,000 Scholarship Opportunity

505 SW NM-True $5,000 Scholarship Opportunity

A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM RECOGNIZING PASSION
FOR THE FUTURE OF NEW MEXICO AGRICULTURE 

505 Southwestern® New Mexico True Scholars is a new scholarship program designed to recognize passion and commitment to pursue higher education and make a positive impact on the agriculture industry in New Mexico.  One recipient for the $5,000 scholarship will be selected annually and will be awarded in equal payments over 4 years of undergraduate study.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

  • Applicants must be graduating seniors of a New Mexico high school.
  • Applicants must plan to attend an accredited college or university in New Mexico beginning fall 2018 and be enrolled full time.
  • Applicants must have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their first six semesters of high school.
  • Applicants must have completed a FAFSA application for the upcoming college year
  •  Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to making an impact in the agricultural industry and/or overall economy of food and agriculture of New Mexico.  

TIMELINE

  • September 29, 2017: Scholarship open for applications online at NewMexico.org/505TrueScholars
  • March 19, 2018 11:59PM: Applications DUE
  • Late April 2018: Scholarship Recipient Announced

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • Complete online application at NewMexico.org/505TrueScholars
  • Attach your high school transcript through your junior year
  • Attach a copy of your college acceptance letter
  • Attach a copy of the FAFSA page that indicates what your Estimated Family Contribution would be.

For more information, visit NewMexico.org/505TrueScholars or email the New Mexico Community Foundation at scholarship@nmcf.org

Teacher Spotlight of the Week

Teacher Spotlight of the Week

“It’s awesome to have an ex-student go out of his or her way to say hi to me and shake my hand where ever I am. Even students you thought you weren’t making a difference in their lives go out of their way to come say hi.”

Lupe Vasquez is in his eleventh year of teaching. He had been a Certified Master Automobile Technician for 25 years when he became a teacher.  Vasquez teaches at Carlsbad High School for Carlsbad Municipal Schools. He currently teaches ninth through twelfth grade Automotive Technology. He also teaches an Introduction to Skills and Technology Class. Additionally, Lupe teaches Automotive Technology in the evenings for the local community college New Mexico State University – Carlsbad.

Lupe relishes in the idea of encountering students with little to no experience in automotive technology. He provides them with the necessary training and hands-on experience to diagnose an automotive problem, and then repair the problem. Vasquez finds it incredibly rewarding to watch his students get a sense of accomplishment and joy when they are able to correctly identify and repair an automotive issue. This makes it all worth being a teacher for him.

Hot Topics in NM Education

Hot Topics in NM Education

Straight “A” Express Chugs Along! The Straight A Train made several stops last week. First stop was in Los Alamos where Secretary Ruszkowski and his team met with students, teachers, school leaders, and board members to celebrate the district’s six “A” schools. Check out coverage in the Los Alamos Daily Post.  The next stops were Cobre and Silver. Check out this incredible article in the Silver City Daily Press. Special thank you to the teacher leaders for the special warm welcome for the PED team!

 

Our Students…RISING! The 2017 winners of the Summer Reading Challenge were announced last week! Balloon ride winners had the opportunity to go up in a hot air balloon with Governor Martinez on Saturday morning. Aracely Mendoza from Gadsden Elementary School in Anthony won the grand prize of an all-expense-paid family vacation to Disney. Check out coverage on all the winners on KRQE. Make sure to encourage your students to participate next summer!!

Bringing in the Bacon! New Mexico has earned more than $42 Million in federal grants for early literacy and quality options for parents. This month the New Mexico Striving Readers “NM Literacy Connections” grant totals $20 Million over the next three years and the New Mexico Charter Schools Program grant totals more than $22 Million over the next five years. Check out coverage in the Roswell Daily Record. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about either grant!

Teacher Spotlight of the Week

Teacher Spotlight of the Week

“The most rewarding part of my profession is when former students share their successes and experiences they remember having in my class. I also enjoy seeing the proud faces of parents and their children when celebrating small and large successes.”

Felicitas Adame – Reyes was born and raised in Santa Ana, California.  She has lived in Albuquerque since the summer of 2010 in both bilingual and special education settings.  She has taught in Santa Ana and Los Angeles, California.  Currently she teaches 4th grade in an inclusion setting and serves as a mentor teacher.

Throughout her career she has instructed in the elementary and middle school capacity.  During her time as an elementary school teacher, she has taught in different bilingual education models.  She has also helped prepare teacher candidates while teaching at Chapman University while she lived in California.  In addition to teaching, Felicitas has also served as an administrator in both Catholic and public schools.  Her skills in reading, speaking and writing in Spanish have helped her serve both students and parents.

Mrs. Adame-Reyes earned a B.A. at Chapman University in Liberal Studies.  Additionally, she has earned a M.A. in Education with an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University.  In her interest to help new teachers, she also received mentor teacher training from the University of Southern California while teaching in Los Angeles, California.

Weekly Highlights

Weekly Highlights

Hot off the Press: Charter schools were a hot topic this week. “More or Moratorium?” – was the name of a panel that took place in Santa Fe discussing the pros and cons of charter schools. Katie Poulos (Director of Options for Parents) sat on the panel. Check out the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican today.

Charter Grant: The Public Education Department scored a major federal grant this past week – $22,507,806.22 to be exact! Check out coverage in the Associated Press and the Albuquerque Journal.

New Mexico True Straight “A” Express Tour: Secretary Ruszkowski and PED team members continued the unprecedented tour around the state that is being talked about in all four corners! This week’s stops included: Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, and Belen. Check out coverage in the Albuquerque Journal and the Rio Rancho Observer. Be sure to check out our blog to stay up-to-date!

Blue Ribbon Schools: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recognized three New Mexico schools for winning the National Blue Ribbon School award – Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces, Desert View Elementary School in Sunland Park, and Wood Gormley Elementary School in Santa Fe. We are thrilled! Congratulations to these schools for their hard work. Check out the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.                           

505 Scholars: Secretary R and three other cabinet secretaries joined Governor Martinez in announcing the 505 Southwestern New Mexico True Scholars scholarship program – an opportunity for students interested in making a positive impact on the agriculture industry in New Mexico. The press conference took place at Flagship Food Group warehouse in Albuquerque. Check out the coverage and incredible photo in the Los Alamos Daily Post. If you know anyone interested in applying for the $5,000 scholarship, visit the New Mexico 505 Scholars webpage.