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An educator’s amazing journey

I’ve worked in education for 10 years. I have always been extremely active in my various roles. I signed up for all available professional development opportunities offered by the district and participated in a variety of school and district teams and committees.

When I had the opportunity to apply for the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory in the fall of 2015, I was intrigued. I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about state-level education policy. I applied because I wanted to get a better understanding of what was happening in regard to education in New Mexico. What I didn’t know was joining the STA would be the start of an amazing journey that would change who I am as an educator and would open up a world of opportunity. It is no longer my desire just to know and understand what is going on, but it is now my intent to take an active role in education and be a voice for all students.

As a member of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory, I had the opportunity to receive training from senior staff at the New Mexico Public Education Department, including Secretary Hanna Skandera. I was eager to learn and asked many questions. The PED team provided us a positive working environment. Their team was professional, respectful and interacted with us in a way that made me feel valued. I was surprised (and) encouraged by this interaction, because I was expecting a negative experience as often rumored. I quickly realized that Secretary Skandera had good intentions and was putting New Mexico students first. This realization opened up a world of opportunities for collaboration between stakeholders who were focused on students. To start, the STA created a vision for what we wanted to do during our time on the advisory and decided that our vision was to equip, empower and champion New Mexico educators. We used our frustrations as a guide to make improvements for teachers across New Mexico. We wanted to equip teachers with accurate information that they could use to become better teachers and support their students. We wanted to empower teachers by allowing them to take active leadership roles without having to leave their classrooms. We wanted to champion teachers for being part of one of the most challenging and rewarding careers.

Once we had a clear goal, we began to execute. We co-hosted, with Secretary Skandera, the first ever New Mexico Teacher Summit, which is a unique opportunity for teachers from across districts to come together for professional development networking with their colleagues and peers. I’m thrilled that at the end of the month we’ll be co-hosting our second summit with more than 1,000 New Mexico educators!

I’ll admit that many of the changes to education in New Mexico have been challenging and that as a teacher I felt frustrated. I now know that with collaboration and a focus on kids, we can deliver an incredible education to every child in New Mexico. New Mexico students are starting to benefit from the high expectations set forth for them. There are some great things happening in New Mexico, and I’m excited to see more accomplishments take place.

As my time as a member of the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory comes to an end, I am leaving knowing I have contributed to some great opportunities for teachers in New Mexico. I am proud of the collaborative effort of teachers from across the state, including representatives from the state’s teachers unions and the Public Education Department. I am proud that the STA will leave behind a legacy of awesome opportunities for teachers that will continue and grow in coming years. I will continue to take an active role in education in New Mexico, and I’m thankful for the first opportunity and the leadership that started it all.