Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Apples for the teachers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Seven New Mexico middle school teachers have been awarded the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

bright spotThe award includes a cash stipend and $4,000 to be used by each recipient toward his or her professional development. Recipients become part of the Golden Apple Academy of Fellows.

“These teachers are inspirational, and we are honored to reward them for their hard work and commitment to educating New Mexico’s children,” Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico Executive Director Brian O’Connell said in a statement.

The seven 2018 recipients are: Cheryl Leung, Math teacher at Desert Ridge Middle School, Albuquerque Public Schools; Cindy Orthman, Reading and History teacher at Eagle Nest Middle School in Cimarron Public Schools; Christopher Ortiz, Science teacher at Ernie Pyle Middle School, APS; Jessica Sanders, Science teacher at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell Independent Schools, Donna Schmidt, Band teacher at Desert Ridge Middle School, APS; Chris Speck, Science teacher at Garfield STEM School, APS; Gerald Tafoya, Math teacher at Cochiti Middle School in Bernalillo Public Schools.

The Golden Apple Award has been given every year since 1996 to outstanding recipients from across the state. It recognizes that teaching excellence is the most important in-school factor in students’ academic success, organizers said in a news release.

There were 141 nominations collected from students, parents, colleagues, principals, or community members in 27 different New Mexico cities and towns. Those nominated must complete a lengthy application describing their teaching methodology, professional development experiences, volunteerism, and other aspects of their teaching philosophy.

In October, 16 teachers were picked as finalists. A selection committee then conducted a full-day site visit at each finalist’s school. Judges observed the teacher in the classroom and interviewed the principal, other teachers, parents, students, and the finalist, organizers said.

Teachers are selected on the basis of the quality of their teaching.

The selection committee also honored an additional nine finalists as Golden Apple Teachers of Distinction.

They are: Briana Blech – Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School, Albuquerque Public Schools; JoAnn Isonhood – Hoover Middle School, APS; Monica Leaming – Tibbetts Middle School, Farmington Municipal Schools; Christina Parra – Sierra Middle School, Las Cruces Public Schools; Wendy Walker-Region – Carlsbad Sixth Grade Academy, Carlsbad; Dale Simpkins – Hoover Middle School, APS; Donald Starr – Desert Ridge Middle School, APS; Janisse Vazquez – The ASK Academy, Rio Rancho; Alice Webb – Washington Middle School, APS.

These educators will be honored at a luncheon April 6, 2018, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque.

Individual tickets and table sponsorships are available through the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico, (505) 268-5337, or by contacting