During each visit, I am excitedly shown what is working in the classrooms and how teachers are being creative and innovative. These folks are very proud of what they do and how they are doing it.
While there has been lots of negativism lately about our education system in New Mexico, it is very refreshing to be in charter schools where there is such optimism and a focus on students.
The New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools recently held its annual Charter Schools Conference on October 25-26 at the Marriott Pyramid in Albuquerque. With two keynote speakers, high-quality presenters and a record number of sponsors, the 2013 conference was the most praised and professional to date.
There were six awards given to distinguished charter school and community leaders at the conference:
- Charter School of the Year – The Albuquerque Sign Language Academy. ASLA is one of the most innovative charter schools in the state. It is the first, and only, state-certified American Sign Language-English bilingual school in the nation and is working with the state Public Education Department Bilingual Division to develop a state-recognized bilingual teacher certification in American Sign Language.
- Charter School Student of the Year – Cheyenne Chavez, a senior at Public Academy for Performing Arts in Albuquerque. She is a great asset to the community as a volunteer and Girl Scout and is a model student for charter schools.
- Charter School Teacher of the Year – Katy Franz of Roots and Wings Community School in Questa. Franz’s dedication to quality education and to the success of her students exceeds the Public Education Department’s definition of a Master Teacher.
- Charter School Principal of the Year – JoAnn Myers, founder and principal of Mission Achievement and Success Charter School in Albuquerque. Myers approaches education with a “no excuses” attitude and provides every opportunity for students to learn, no matter the cost.
- Charter School Governing Council of the Year – Board members of The New America School in Las Cruces. Because of all the hard work and dedication shown by each member, the students, staff and parents have been able to experience how a charter school board is a critical part of the learning community.
- Charter School Legislator of the Year – Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque. Larrañaga works tirelessly during each legislative session in support of New Mexico’s charter schools. During the 2013 session, he introduced legislation that would have been beneficial to charter schools and their capital outlay needs. We are proud to say that Rep. Larrañaga has an open door to listening to charter schools and is always ready to support quality charter schools in New Mexico.
Bruce Hegwer, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools, writes a monthly column for the Journal.