Category: New Mexico Teacher Spotlight

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.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Kathy Zimmermann

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Kathy Zimmermann

Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades
15 years in the classroom.
“I feel my responsibility as a teacher is to instill confidence and curiosity and then show the students the possibilities that await them. Change in public education is upon us and we have a choice to either embrace it and champion our children or stay quiet and watch them suffer.”

I was born and raised in Deming, Luna County. I am part of the fifth generation to grow roots in the unforgiving southwestern desert. I was born to loving parents, and I was very lucky to have both of them growing up. My dad passed away in 2001, but my mom is still my best friend and one of my greatest supports. I graduated from Deming High School in 1988. I married my first husband in 1994. I celebrated the birth of my son, Challen in 1995 and my daughter, Kelsie in 1999. With the birth of my daughter, I decided it was time to follow my childhood dream of being Cinderella at Disneyland – OH NO, wait – not that dream. I was already entirely too old! So, instead, I followed my dream of becoming a teacher. My third grade teacher was a wonderful lady named Sallie Wilcox, and I always knew that I wanted to grow-up to smell as good as she did and be a great teacher, just like her! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think fondly of her and praise her for her patience.
In order to make this dream a reality, I began my first college class at the age of 30. I earned my BA in elementary education at Western New Mexico University, then went on to continue my education at Eastern New Mexico University, earning a certificate in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). In May of 2017, I finished my course work and earned my Master of Arts in Education from New Mexico State University. I began my journey as a teacher in 2003 where I taught kindergarten until 2014. My husband, Robert, passed away that year, and I decided it was time for a change, so I moved to the elementary school that I attended as a child in order to teach third grade. I loved third grade, but at the end of my first year with the “big kids” I was offered a position teaching in the multi-age program. I loved the idea of combining what I had always done in kindergarten with all the new things I had learned in third grade, and, as they say, the rest is history! Except for the fact that I am now remarried to a wonderful man, Kirk, who also happens to be a teacher. He teaches P.E. here in Deming and is also an assistant football coach for the Deming Wildcats! Go CATS!
I have found that teaching is not really a career but rather a life choice. I absolutely love what I do. Our children are our most precious natural resource and through education we are able to secure our future. If we teach them compassion and respect for our past, our present, and our future, then they will have the tools to sustain and possibly even create a better world than the one we know today. What we do as teachers is so much more than imparting facts. In our tumultuous world, which is driven by technology, we don’t necessarily need to teach children information but rather how to gather and use information. Each morning I come to school eager to see what new discovery my students will make and hopeful that I will be able to strike a spark of curiosity in them that will sustain their desire to find out more.
Most recently in my career I have had the privilege to serve as a part of the Teacher Leader Network as a member of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory. I have made many new friends from all across the state and have gained a respect and understanding for our public education system. The most important thing that I have garnered from this experience is how important it is for teachers to network, find their voices, and advocate for our profession and, most importantly, for our children!

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Tennise Lucas

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Tennise Lucas

It is a big world out there, but I tell my students that they can do anything. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” My job is not just to teach academics; but to help students navigate their lives while striving for their best.

I am a native Roswellite via Canada. I grew up between living in town and on my grandparents ranch in Lincoln County. This was my first classroom of sorts as I learned how to ride horses, brand cattle, and fix fences. Most of my education was in Roswell. After graduating from high school, several career changes, a bachelor’s degree, and the birth of my world; Echo, I decided to finally commit to teaching. This was not a decision I took lightly. I believe that the cornerstone of our country is our children, and the education they receive is vital.

My intentions were never to become a principal. One of my former superintendents once told me that if I didn’t like how things were going, I needed to be a principal. So, I was given an opportunity and received my leadership training through the National Institute for Student Leadership in conjunction with ENMU. This training was invaluable as it opened my eyes to the necessity for change in our educational system. I received a Master of Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. and my New Mexico Teacher’s Certificate from Eastern New Mexico University. Currently, I am a state representative for my district on the Secretary Teacher Advisory Council and one of the ambassadors for my school. My leadership roles include Superintendent Advisory Council, PD training, a mentor for other teachers, and school based leadership team. I am a fierce advocate for my students and passionate about their learning.

When not in the classroom, I am in a dance room. In 2003, I was an originating instructor of The Studio+. In 2005, I was certified in the discipline of Tap under board certification with the Texas Association Teachers of Dancing, Inc. I continue to work with children through tap and Irish dancing at the studio.

After fifteen years of teaching in both private and public school settings, I am not ready to leave the classroom. I will continue to work for teachers and my students in an attempt to help develop innovative, safe, and effective 21st century learning environments that will foster both academic and emotional well-being.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Alysha Wagley

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Alysha Wagley

I love watching students’ belief in themselves and their own strengths and talents grow as they improve and find their own paths in life. Teaching to me, goes far beyond the imparting of knowledge; it is helping each student reach their potential. The students of today are our future, so it is important that we lead them to be the most prepared and well-rounded citizens we can.

I am blessed to teach high school Language Arts and history in the tiny community of Animas, NM. Animas is a rural, agriculture community in the “Bootheel” of NM. We are the farthest school south and west in NM serving approximately 180 students PK-12 with under 80 in our 7-12 high school. It is the same school where my Dad, brother, and I all attended. I grew up on my family farm driving tractors, chopping cotton, and raising show pigs. My husband Sam now works on the farm, and my three boys are now learning the same valuable skills and life lessons I learned growing up here. My boys are the fifth generation to work this land and hopefully won’t be the last. I am as proud to be a farm girl as I am a teacher.

A small school allows me to be lucky enough to have many of my students multiple times throughout the day and then after school for Drama or Mock Trial Practice. These hours together give me a greater opportunity to truly get to know my students. I am very invested in my students and enjoy helping them hone their natural talents and improve their skills in and out of the classroom.

As a young girl, my mother instilled in me the importance of living a life of service. I grew up learning the value of giving back and serving my community through 4-H, FFA and Epsilon Sigma Alpha (https://www.epsilonsigmaalpha.org). As a teacher, it is that love of service that continues to drive me as I strive to instill the appreciation and reward of giving in my students. Two years ago, I chartered a youth chapter for Epsilon Sigma Alpha International (ESA). This is an organization where I continue to facilitate opportunities for teenagers to perform service in our community, raise money for charities and learn the importance of being a humanitarian. These mirror the lessons I try to teach in my student-led classroom and whole-child approach to teaching. I love seeing my students take ownership of their learning while helping them to value not only the content but its application to their future. There is no greater pleasure or pride than watching my students shine, whether that is in the classroom, on the stage or in a mock courtroom. Those are the moments I treasure most and the moments I encourage the teachers I mentor to hold on to when they hit a brick wall or feel overwhelmed with frustrations. As teachers, we must remember we are shaping the future of all professions. I can only hope that one day my students love their own professions as much as I love mine!

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Monica Nunez

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Monica Nunez

I walk into my classroom everyday with the drive to inspire my students to set high expectations for themselves. With hard work and dedication, they can dream big and find their own success.

Being the first high school graduate in my family was a major accomplishment. Without the support of teachers and faculty at Santa Teresa High School, I would not have been able to graduate at the top 5% of my class, with a full academic scholarship.  This is my purpose for teaching at the same high school that I graduated from. I want to be that teacher that inspires students to find their own future success.

At New Mexico State University I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction. One of my goals was always to return to my community to help students like myself.   I have been working as a teacher for 12 years now.  During my time at Gadsden Independent School District I have provided not just the teaching of subjects, but I have also guided my students towards setting and achieving their own future goals.

Teaching has always been a passion. I taught fourth grade for seven years at Santa Teresa Elementary.  During this time, I was able to be a part of a strong community that involved teachers, parents, and students.  By working hard we received a National Blue Ribbon Schools Award in 2010 by former President Barack Obama.  We were the first school from Gadsden Independent School District to receive this distinction.

As a science teacher at Santa Teresa High School, I continue to challenge my students and help them set goals to graduate. I am always looking for opportunities to broaden my students’ experiences.  I want them to see the world that exists outside of our community.

Some of my recognitions for teaching have been a TRIO New Mexico State Alumni Achiever Award and a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. As part of the fellowship, I worked with National Geographic by taking an expedition to Antarctica.  I was then able to share this experience with my students, school and local community.  This experience has broaden my own perspective of the world and how to teach my own students beyond our beautiful Chihuahuan Desert.

I always dreamed of going to the white continent. As a teacher, I was able to accomplish my dream.  My purpose as a teacher is to have students see me as a source of inspiration to accomplish their own dreams.  I always tell my students that if I can accomplish my dreams, they can, too.

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Silvia Miranda

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Silvia Miranda

A great teacher touches the life of a child forever.  Be that teacher. Every day.

This marks my 10th year teaching, and I have never been more invigorated and passionate about my career!  I pursued my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Bilingual Education in 2004, and I received my Masters in Education specializing in Literacy in 2013.  My first teaching job was as a kindergarten teacher in a rural Title I School in Clovis.  Being a military wife, I moved to a different school every year for the first five years of my career.   While not teaching consecutively in one district or grade level had its drawbacks, it provided me with the opportunity to teach diverse populations and learn from colleagues from around the country.  I taught grades K-3 in different schools in NM and OK, including bilingual programs at dual language schools. I finally settled back home (Clovis, NM), where I have taught 4th grade at Mesa Elementary School for the past five years.  I serve as a member of the NMDASH team at my school, and as the Literacy Leader for my building.  I am a mentor to first year/beginning teachers, and work as a Peer Coach to teachers around my district.  One of the highlights of my career has been traveling to Washington D.C. in representation of my school to receive the National Blue Ribbon Award.  I work hard to provide my students the best education possible.  This year I wrote and won a grant to provide STEM resources and experiences to my students, and I put together the Spanish Spelling Bee and a BananaGram Tournament to reach my out of the box thinkers.   

As an educator, I am committed to being a life-long learner.  Two years ago, I became an Ambassador of the NM Teacher Leader Network.  This coming year, I will participate as a Teacher Leader in my district’s own Teacher Leader Network!  

If you walk into my classroom, you will witness students actively engaged and leading their own learning.  I have implemented whole brain teaching mixed in with growth mindset strategies, resulting in a classroom full of productivity, positivity, and possibility! I love my job, and nothing makes me happier than a classroom full of eager minds! 

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Steven Lamb

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight: Steven Lamb

Innovation. Watching how students take risks, learn from failure, collaborate, and transform into empathetic learners is why I teach.

Steven Lamb began his career as a local business owner in Albuquerque, NM.  Feeling that he could make a greater difference in his community, Mr. Lamb felt compelled to educate the future leaders and professionals around him.  As a result, Mr. Lamb immediately pursued his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and went further to obtain his Master of Arts Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading.

Since his participation in the elementary world, Mr. Lamb has been invited to speak at the APS Administrators Conference on Education, APS Digital Learning Conference, and two TEDxABQ Education Events.  More notably, Mr. Lamb was named the 2017 NM PBS Digital Innovator, an Apple Distinguished Educator, and bestowed the title of the Henry Ford Innovator.  He has pioneered the use of instructional technology in the classroom by co-creating a curriculum to digitally team-teach with another educator located eighteen miles away at a different school.

In his classroom, 21st century preparation occurs through meaningful collaboration.  Through the employment of Virtual Team Teaching, students are engaging in preparation far beyond their elementary years.  Unlike distance education, one time projects, and traditional classroom teaching, continuous use of Virtual Team Teaching uses digital and web-based tools to enhance the collaborative nature of effective learning.  He believes that technology should not be a separate and apart entity, but a tool to redefine classroom instruction.  By walking into his room you will often hear conversation, not meaningless chatter, but rather two classrooms engaging in discourse across eighteen miles.  You may also hear introductions as students begin teaching and learning with microbiology college students in Malaysia, or discussion of marine and desert habitats with high school students from Jamaica. You will see children building connections, refining professional skills, and making a virtual world personal. 

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight-John McElhinney

New Mexico Teacher Spotlight-John McElhinney

The most meaningful part of teaching is setting high expectations for my students while encouraging and inspiring them to set goals for themselves as they grow from being a unique participant  in a community of learners into an active contributor in our society.

John McElhinney was born and raised in New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 1987, he joined the United State Marine Corps. He spent the majority of his service in Irving, California,(Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron). 

After the Marines, John moved back to the East Coast and matriculated at the University of Delaware. At Delaware, John majored in history, and also took anthropology and archeology courses. It was during one of these courses, that he became interested in the culture and people of New Mexico. He spent two weeks in New Mexico camping and hiking in the summer of 94. But it would be another thirteen years before he returned to visit his sister in Albuquerque, and six more until it became his permanent home.

After graduating from Delaware in 1995, John worked for two corporations, but did not feel fulfilled from his work. In the summer of 1997, John started his master’s degree in education at Monmouth University, and quickly realized this was his passion. It was at this time John combined another passion of his with teaching. Traveling! John completed his student teaching in Nacka, Sweden, and thus began years teaching abroad in such places as Italy, Korea, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

 Since returning to the United States in 2013, he spent one year teaching in Albuquerque, and is currently completing his third year teaching in Raton, New Mexico, as a third grade teacher.

 Utilizing his many experiences abroad and lessons learned from his parents, John also brings compassion, energy, enthusiasm, and the desire to be  a lifelong learner to the classroom.