Teachers may be drawn to their profession for many different reasons, but when asked why they stay, they’d probably give a similar response. Passion for their students and guiding their learning keeps the bests educators coming back to the classroom year after year despite complex challenges and demanding results, all for minimal pay.
Teachers approach their job with humility, but we know that they truly create the foundation for our communities, build our local workforce, and contribute to our shared future. This is why Centerra-Los Alamos, the Laboratory’s protective force contractor, chose to partner with the LANL Foundation in 2016 and create the Excellence in Teaching Award. Centerra’s goal was to bring encouragement and support to the education profession and boost teacher morale in the places where the majority of its employees reside and raise their families.
In 2018, in addition to honoring teachers in Rio Arriba County, educators in Pojoaque also became eligible for nomination. For the third year, awards were given to seven outstanding educators during surprise assemblies at their school just before the end-of-year break. LANL Foundation and Centerra staff presented the winners with an engraved award and a personal check for $1000.
The 2018 winners of the Rio Arriba County & Pojoaque Excellence in Teaching Award are:
- Loyola Bird, 11th-12th grade English teacher at Dulce High School
- Cyrus Dudgeon, 11th-12th grade language arts teacher at Española Valley High School
- Rachel Frank, 6th grade teacher at Pojoaque Sixth Grade Academy
- Nancy Martinez, 6th grade teacher at Tony E. Quintana Elementary School
- Susan Quintana, 9-12 teacher at Pojoaque Valley High School
- Katherine Salazar, 3rd grade teacher at Ohkay Owingeh Community School
- Carlos Villareal, Kindergarten teacher at San Juan Elementary
“We believe that teachers are the most important assets in Northern New Mexico and everywhere. They set the foundation for students’ success,” said Lennie Upshaw, Centerra General Manager. “We’re proud to honor teachers in Rio Arriba County and Pojoaque doing an outstanding job. We want to make sure their dedication and efforts are the recognized.”
To be eligible, teachers must have taught at their current K–12 public, Tribal or charter school in Rio Arriba County or Pojoaque for at least three years. Nominations of 24 teachers were submitted by current and former students, administrators and their colleagues through a form on the LANL Foundation’s website. Each nominee’s impact on his or her school, students and community; leadership qualities; cultivation of positive culture; and inspiration of lifelong learning in others were considered.
Winners are chosen by a selection committee made up of invited community members and staff from both sponsoring organizations. Funding is provided by Centerra, and the program is managed by the LANL Foundation.