Tag: STA

Teacher Spotlight: Ava Rebecca Bartoo

Teacher Spotlight: Ava Rebecca Bartoo

Meet Ava Rebecca Bartoo
8th grade science
16 years in the classroom
I have a diverse background of educational experience in science from initiating STEM programs, leadership opportunities, and developing networks for quality educational experiences with colleagues at the state and national level, inspiring students to use Geo Inquiry projects to impact their community, and coaching teams. I have 16 years of experience teaching in the public and private sectors in the state of NM. I have had much success with my students throughout the years and was recently designated as a NM Exemplary teacher, never falling below highly effective. I had the awesome opportunity to serve as a NM Teacher liaison this school year traveling, participating in webinars, participating in a state wide network with other teachers, administration, and colleagues about changes to policies, legislation, rule adoptions, and happenings in education.
My last 11 years I have been teaching science content at the Truth or Consequences Middle School 6th-8th. My diverse experiences teaching engaging hands on science, providing extra- curricular activities after school, and providing college and career readiness preparation within lessons inspire students to see real world applications of science. Our district is plagued with many issues that are familiar around the state. We are 100% free and reduced lunch, limited resources for staff, students, and families. In addition there are drug problems, teen pregnancy, and limited jobs for families. Though these factors are present we have still had success the school I am at has been an A school for three consecutive years and recently I was selected to serve on the Secretary Teacher Advisory team with the secretary of education for the 2018-19. No matter what situations we face in education there is hope, we can face them together and we can still strive for excellence for all children in our state no matter what issues the communities are facing.
Within the last eleven years I have coordinated and implemented many STEM programs for the students at my school. Coaching science Olympiad for 9 years for 6th, 7th and 8th grades has been a great experience. The kids have qualified for state 8 times since I started here. It was offered as an after school scholastic after school club for students interested in science. I also coordinated other programs such as the Space X race for space rocket build teams for 2 in-consecutive years. My first rocket team won a payload spot valued at $13,000 and was launched from Space Port when it was still dirt. My second team built a Geiger Mueller counter that was part of a payload that was launched from a much larger rocket at Space Port America at their new site. I also prepared by 6th grade students for the Challenger learning experience two years in a row. I earned my Master’s degree in Administration and graduated in 2008. During the summer of 2013, I participated in a class during the summer to become a Mimio certified trainer and provide technology that I use daily in the classroom. I have served on several boards in education throughout the years at the state level as well. I was part of the NM SBA review committee for Science in 2009. I am also became a National Geographic certified educator. This year I served on the NM Course Map review team for the Next Generation science standards that were adopted by our state. I also served on the NGSS instructional review team to review material proposed to be adopted by NM for K-12 aligned with NGSS and its 3 Dimensional practices. My most rewarding experience has been the National Geographic Geo Inquiry Project that ended with my 8th grade class getting updated water fountains for the 34 year old school. It was part of my National Geographic teacher certification process and was aligned with NGSS and mirrored service learning projects I have seen become so popular on a national level.

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.

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: 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!

Going the Distance

Going the Distance

When my nine-year-old son recently ran his first cross-country race, he joined a long line of long-distance runners. My entire family is obsessed with running—from my sister, who coaches a high school cross-country team, to my niece, who is a state champion long-distance runner. I’ve run my fair share of 5Ks and even trained for and completed a half-marathon! I guess you could say running just runs in our family.

My family also is full of teachers. My mother is a teacher, my sister and I used to teach in neighboring classrooms at Volcano Vista High School, and my son just finished the third-grade with my cousin as his teacher. We even have a few college instructors among us!

In a way, it isn’t surprising that our family is passionate for both long-distance running and education. Jogging thirteen miles and teaching a classroom of kids are similarly exhausting—but rewarding—activities. Both often involve waking up way too early in the morning. Both require a huge time commitment and determination in the face of discouragement. And both revolve around aiming high and working toward a distant goal: either making it to the finish line or helping students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and beyond.

But while a half-marathon has always been 13.1 miles, the definition of success for our students today is markedly different than it was when I was in school years ago. To be a smart citizen, consumer, and competitive in the workforce in 2017, you have to be able to think critically, understand other perspectives, and clearly explain your own ideas. The bar is higher now, and the race to reach it is more fast-paced and competitive than ever. As a teacher, I know we need to help students today be prepared for that race by challenging them to meet higher academic standards.

Higher expectations for students translate into different expectations for teachers, too. This notion fuels my work with the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory, a committee of teachers from around the state who have the ear of Acting Secretary of Education Christopher Ruszkowski on topics like school grades, standardized testing, and NMTEACH summative reports. There is no question that this is hard work and we certainly don’t agree on everything. As a group of dedicated teachers, we are focused on equipping and empowering teachers in order to, in turn, do the same for our students. We believe that when teachers reflect on how they teach and shift their practice to better support their students in meeting the standards, students will be more likely to succeed.

And the good news this is exactly what’s happening: New Mexico students are making gains and increasingly meeting the higher expectations that we’ve set for them with the New Mexico Common Core State Standards.

Despite this fantastic progress, we still have a long way to go. Only 19.7 percent of New Mexico students are proficient in math, and about 28.6 percent are proficient in reading. If we want more of our students to reach the finish line of graduating high school ready for college and careers, then we need to stay the course with our high standards and aligned assessments. We also need to ensure that teachers get feedback and support to help their students meet the standards. We’re on the right track here in New Mexico, and with some perseverance and renewed energy, we can truly help our young people go the distance.

Top 10 Highlights of the NM Teacher Summit

Top 10 Highlights of the NM Teacher Summit

In case you missed it, June 26th and 27th marked our Second Annual NM Teacher Summit. The event was huge success with 1,000 teachers from all over the state coming together to celebrate one another and continue to grow in their craft and career.

Check out the 10 Ten things about the 2nd Annual Teacher Summit:

  1. 1,000 attendees

    This year, the summit grew to 3x the size of last year. It was a true joy to see 1,000 teachers gathered full of positivity and excitement! Two years ago, the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory said they wanted a summer conference, we would never have dreamed that just two years later we’d be standing on stage looking at a crowd of 1,000 teachers!

  2. Improved Communication

    In my role, I often hear from teachers that they feel “out of the loop”. I had many conversations over two days in which teachers said they finally feel like they know what is going on and feel included in the path ahead!

  3. Acting Secretary Ruszkowski’s first keynote address

    It was great to see Acting Secretary Ruszkowski deliver his first ever keynote address as Acting Secretary during the Summit’s opening session and to learn more about his personal story and passion for education. Later, he spent time in small group sessions with teachers answering tough questions with finesse and commitment. Teachers really enjoyed meeting one on one.

  4. New Teacher Leader Opportunities

    We shared so many opportunities for teachers to be change agents for education in New Mexico at the Summit. Teach Plus shared their application for the 2nd cohort of the New Mexico Teach Plus Fellowship. The New Mexico Literacy Dream Team shared the 36 close reading lesson plans and announced the launch of the 2nd New Mexico Dream Team which will focus on Social Studies. Stay tuned for the application. We also announced the expansion of the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network and the 2nd Cohort of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory. The 2nd Cohort of the STA will be selected by the end of the month and the application with for the expansion of the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network will be out this Fall.

  5. Empowered Teachers 

    Through the course of the conference we were able to see teachers realize that they have so much power to impact change for their students and schools. I really enjoyed watching teachers lean into their power as teachers and begin to empower others.

  6. Secretary Skandera’s Final Interview with Romy Drucker from The 74 Million

    Although her last day on the job was June 20th, Secretary Skandera was present at the New Mexico Teacher Summit and did a final interview with the CEO of the online education site, The 74 Million, Romy Drucker. Secretary Skandera reflected on her time in New Mexico, shared her lessons learned, and thanked the teachers for attending and creating so many opportunities for teachers to be equipped, empowered and championed.

  7. National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee 

    It was such an honor to have the National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee, join us for the Summit. Sydney delivered the keynote address at our celebration dinner on night 1 of the summit. During her keynote, Sydney talked about the power of teacher voice and encouraged all teachers to get involved.

  8. More than 36 awesome break out sessions

    PED Staff and external partners came together to host more than 36 breakout sessions on everything form iStation and PARCC, to Teacher Evaluation and School Grades, small group sessions with Acting Secretary Ruszkowski and focus groups on new literacy programs. We also had sessions on Teacher Leader opportunities, Curriculum and Lesson Planning and so much more. All sessions were kicked off by a teacher leader, which was a great way to highlight their effort and commitment.

  9. #NMTeacherSummit

    We had a blast following teacher’s favorite moments and take-aways on Twitter. Participants were encouraged to interact using #NMTeacherSummit allowing others to follow along.

  10. Teachers Leading

    Our teacher leaders were in force at the Summit. They introduced every break out session, introduced every keynote speakers, led teacher shout outs from the stage and assisted their colleagues. Some of our teacher leaders even led break out sessions. This was truly our vision come to life. Teachers equipping, empowering and championing their peers. It was the highlight of my career to watch it unfold.

The NM Teacher Summit equipped, empowered, and championed our teachers, but don’t take my word for it. Check out what teachers had to say about the event:

Santa Fe Teacher

I had an amazing time these past two days! I truly believe that we are on a positive path in New Mexico! 

Las Cruces Teacher

The Summit made me realize I need to get out of my comfort zone after 28 years of teaching. I can’t wait to get the STA application in my hand, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll apply for the School Liaison. There is so much work to be done, and I want to be part of it!!! 

Albuquerque Teacher

This girl is on FIRE! Based on two of the breakout sessions, I have revamped my first two weeks of lessons. Inquiry based life science with argumentation discussions based on Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning. I am so excited! Also, I’m hoping to take these ideas back to my site and share with my colleagues. Between the STEM Symposium and The Summit, I am fired up! Thank you NMPED and our teacher leaders! 

Artesia Teacher

It was so enjoyable to spend two days in such a positive atmosphere. 

Texico Teacher

I have of being a part of something so incredibly dynamic and motivating! From the beginning to the end, I felt that I was involved in something transformative and inspired. The general sessions were all inclusive and uniting, and the break outs supported so many varied personal interests. The two days were uplifting and affirming as an educator. I feel valued and respected, heard and recognized, and most of all, championed. 

We hope to see you at next year’s Teacher Summit! Date to come soon!

To find resources and presentations from the teacher summit click here.

GUEST POST: Teachers as Leaders, Yes We Can!

GUEST POST: Teachers as Leaders, Yes We Can!

When I first heard the modern iteration of the term ‘Teacher Leadership’ at the National Board’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference, my first cynical thought was, “Here They go again… trying to get us to do more work for less money.”   Three years later, I’ve come to believe strongly that teacher leadership is the key to creating a modern, effective American educational system.

Like many experienced teachers, I was a teacher leader before that became a catch phrase.  Almost 20 years ago, I was lucky enough to be a part of a cadre of ‘Literacy Leaders’ in my district.  There were 12 of us.  Our mission was to disseminate the research on how to teach reading.  It was exciting to be a part of this cohort and it was exciting to bring the teachers at my school together for the first time to discuss our practice and how to make it better.  The week-long summer training I led changed the culture at our school from one of isolation to one of collaboration.

Teachers volunteer at their schools because they want to help their peers be the best they can be for the good of their students.  Often these leaders move on into administrative positions because that is the only opportunity they see to extend their reach.  Many feel the need to expand their impact by formalizing their authority. Unfortunately, too many of these teacher leaders are unhappy in their roles as administrators.  They miss the life of the classroom.  They don’t feel their new roles give them the access they hoped for.  And they are right.  Teachers are more often influenced to improve their practice by other teachers whom they trust and respect.

This is where the true power of teacher leadership lies. Great teachers who improve collaborative practices within schools impact instruction far more than the conventional professional development.  The support that is most needed to improve their teaching is much more involved and intimate than the typical teacher training session.  Strong teachers, who receive training in coaching and adult learning theory, as well as, leading collaborative teams, can help build a culture of ongoing collaborative learning and professional practice in schools.  In this way highly effective teachers can lead courageous change leading to remarkable improvement in student learning.

Since ‘teacher leadership’ has become a movement, there are now a variety of models of teacher leadership around the country.  One is the hybrid role, where teachers teach part of the day and mentor or coach the other part.  In Albuquerque Public Schools, some teacher leaders are full time school-based Instructional Coaches.  Recently, organizations such as Teach Plus and Educators for Excellence have recruited exceptional educators and supported them in influencing policy and school reform in their states.  Teach Plus Fellows recently and successfully advocated for changes to our evaluation system.  The Secretary of Education’s Teacher Advisory is another such advocacy group that the PED started last year.  Both programs will be seeking applicants for new cohorts this summer. Other teachers seek advanced training or National Board Certification and work to help others achieve the same.  Perhaps the most powerful example of teacher leadership has been in the ‘Teacher Led Schools’ movement that has so far been stunningly successful.

New Mexico started its own innovative teacher leadership initiative with the Teacher Leader Network. This network began with 50 high performing teachers who went through a rigorous selection process.  They are brought together in person for 5 full day leadership trainings.  They take part in monthly webinars so they are kept abreast of current information from the the Public Education Department so that they can share it directly with their peers.  The state Public Education Department plans to expand this program so that every school in New Mexico has a designated teacher leader as part of the network.  As a tool for communication, this could yield powerful dividends, especially if the people who lead the Public Education Department make it a venue for not only dispersing information but also as a way to find out what teachers really need and want from our education leaders.  As a way to improve instruction among the rank and file, this network could have profound impact if the teacher leaders are able build trust, and establish collaborative processes in their schools.

If you are a teacher who wants to see some changes in our system, get involved!  Stay on the lookout for opportunities to apply for fellowships and leadership positions.  These opportunities are becoming increasingly more common.  Become National Board Certified, our state is one of the few in which you can receive a healthy stipend for this important achievement.  National Board Certification can open other doors as a leader in our profession.  If you are already National Board Certified consider attending our spring Leadership and advocacy training that will take place in Albuquerque in early June.

My own journey as a teacher leader taught me that teachers in New Mexico still need way more support than they generally receive. They feel powerless to change some of the circumstances within which they work, which leads to increased stress and a too high attrition rate.  In the fall, I will be working towards a Master’s Degree in Educational Policy so I can increase the capacity of teacher leaders in New Mexico. Investing in teacher leaders who create more support for teachers is money well spent.  As teacher leaders we can and must raise our voices to influence public policy in support of our teachers and our schools.

ICYMI: Roswell Daily Record: Morales says education is path to change

ICYMI: Roswell Daily Record: Morales says education is path to change

After nine years in various teaching assignments in Roswell, Hope Morales has a new role this year.

She is a “teacher on special assignment” at Military Heights Elementary School, training to become a principal for the Roswell Independent School District.
“As much as I love working with students, I absolutely adore working with teachers. And I know that the collaboration I have with teachers is helping students. The strategies that we are talking about, the data we are sharing are going into classrooms to help students. … Rather than working with 25 students, I work with 400, and rather than working with three teachers, I work with teachers throughout the building.”

Morales might be a familiar name to some in the city. She was one of the public faces of the New Mexico Teach Plus Teaching Policy fellows who helped craft the new state Public Education Department rule announced April 2 by Gov. Susana Martinez. The rule, to be in effect five years, will double the sick leave days allowed for teachers from three a year to six before they are penalized in their evaluations and will reduce the weight of student test scores from 50 percent to 35 percent. Now classroom [auth] observations and student scores each will account for 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Martinez had vetoed a bill that would have allowed teachers to use all 10 sick days permitted by their contracts before being penalized.

Selected for the one-year fellowship from hundreds of applications statewide and after a process that involved screening of applications, interviews and questions regarding educational policy, Morales was put on a team that studied teacher evaluations, including conducting polls of educators in the state that provided data to help formulate a proposed policy. (City Councilor and University High School math teacher Natasha Mackey is also a fellow this year.)

Although teacher evaluation policy was not Morales’s personal top priority, it was among the top three and one she thinks is vitally important to education. “I think the evaluation system overall has impacted the culture of education as a state,” she said. “I think that teachers need accountability and our teachers want accountability. And I think that students deserve that. But I also believe there needs to be balance and accuracy. And I think our changes help bring better balance to the system while maintaining that accountability. “As soon as no evaluation bills had passed involving evaluations, I asked Teach Plus leadership, ‘Can we go back to PED leadership and see if we could get our recommendations into the current rule?’ … So there was always a back-up plan so that, some how, some way, we were going to get the changes.” Morales said she has heard mostly positive feedback about the changes, but she recognizes that some educators were critical of the changes as insubstantial or insufficient.
“We knew we had to compromise and get numbers in there that would be an improvement,” she said.

A Roswell native and Roswell High School graduate, Morales said that she knew early on that she wanted to be a teacher. She earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education and has worked at three local schools as a substitute, a reading associate, a first-, second- and third-grade teacher, a seventh-grade language arts teacher and a Title I teacher.
She has been at Military Heights for four years and said she appreciates its “positive” culture. It’s also a perk that she gets to be at the same school as her second-grade daughter. Her son attends Berrendo Middle School.

Military Heights principal Heidi Shanor commented on Morales’s contribution as a teacher advocate. “She has become very involved with the New Mexico Department of Education over the past two years, especially, Shanor said, “lending her voice to help make positive changes for our educators and education system.”

Morales said that she could get a principal position as early as the fall, but she said she has learned that she can’t control the outcome. “I don’t go by my plans anymore,” she said. “That does not work out at all, so I kind of say that I will go for it all and what works out is right for me.”

Morales serves on many other education committees, including the New Mexico Secretary of Education’s Advisory Council, the RISD Superintendent’s Advisory Council, the RISD School Leadership Team and the New Mexico Teacher Leader Network. Her ultimate aim, she said, is to utilize education to help the community and its citizens succeed. “I was the first in my family to graduate high school with honors, to get my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree. Education was my opportunity to change the cycle, and I want to make sure that I provide that opportunity for others,” she said. “I want to do my part to contribute to the overall success of our children.”
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Reposted from RDR Online Roswell Daily Record by staff writer Lisa Dunlap