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DOE honors 3 N.M. schools for excellence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Charter school in Albuquerque is one honoree

Students leave Anthony Elementary School, one of three New Mexico schools named to the 2012-2013 list of Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Journal File

Students leave Anthony Elementary School, one of three New Mexico schools named to the 2012-2013 list of Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education.
Journal File

Three schools in New Mexico – Anthony Elementary School in Anthony, Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science at UNM and Holloman Middle School in Alamogordo – have been named to the 2012-2013 list of Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, founded in 1982, recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools at which students demonstrate outstanding performance or show significant academic improvement.

Linda Perez, principal at Anthony Elementary, said she was “floored” upon hearing the news. “For an educator, it’s the biggest dream” and it shows that “language and socioeconomic conditions are no excuse for not learning and not being successful.”

The Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science meets on the UNM campus. Journal File

The Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science meets on the UNM campus.
Journal File

She noted that 98 percent of the school’s students are economically disadvantaged, and for 70 percent of them, English is not their primary language.

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The teachers at the school, she said, use an individualized approach in which “they look at data and teach the students at the level they need, rather than teaching to the whole class.”

Perez and her staff have fostered a culture in which all students expect and plan to go to college, and everyone is held accountable. Teachers post their photos outside their classroom with details about their degrees and the university from which they graduated, and Perez has posted signs showing the school’s standards-based assessment scores in math and reading for the last six years.

A banner hanging in the school’s foyer displays the Anthony Elementary motto: “No excuses! We’re a College-Bound Campus!”

At AIMS charter school in Albuquerque, principal Kathy Sandoval said she was “thrilled” with the Blue Ribbon designation.

“It’s been a long time coming. When we first started, we were 38 percent proficient in reading and 42 percent proficient in math. We knew we had to do something and buckled down and started a new teacher evaluation system that we implemented in 2009. It just so happens that it’s pretty close to the system that the state has recently proposed.”

Today, reading proficiency at AIMS is 94 percent and math proficiency is 96 percent.

Every AIMS student must take five advanced placement courses and 32 hours in dual enrollment courses at Central New Mexico Community College or the University of New Mexico.

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By the time they graduate, most students have an average of 50 dual enrollment hours, Sandoval said.

AIMS, established seven years ago, was also singled out for other honors earlier this year, Sandoval said.

Based on the rigor of its curriculum, Newsweek ranked it among the top 25 percent of private and public high schools; the Washington Post ranked it 42nd in the nation; and the state Public Education Department ranked AIMS first in the state based on students’ scores and proficiencies.

George Straface, superintendent of Alamogordo Public Schools, said the Blue Ribbon award for Holloman Middle School “is an honor for the school, our school district and our community.”

Further, he said, it reflects “our students’ motivation and dedication to learning, as well as the faculty, staff and principal’s guidance and instruction.”

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