Now in its noteworthy fifty-fifth year, the New Mexico Teacher of the Year Program began in 1963. Each year, all New Mexico school districts and Charter schools are invited to nominate an outstanding teacher to become New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year; this teacher represents New Mexico in the National Teacher of the Year competition.
New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year acts as the spokesperson for the teaching profession for New Mexico. The New Mexico Teacher of the Year program incorporates the New Mexico Public Education Department’s vision of a world-class educational system in which all New Mexico students are prepared to succeed in a diverse, and increasingly complex, world.
New Mexico Teacher of the Year State Awards Program
The New Mexico Teacher of the Year is chosen from the eighty-nine school districts and the state and local charter schools who have nominated an outstanding teacher by a panel of judges (i.e. past New Mexico Teachers of the Year, School District Superintendents, Nationally Board Certified Teachers working within New Mexico School Districts, School Administrators, and other teachers) representing New Mexico educators.
The mission of the New Mexico Public Education Department is to provide leadership, technical assistance and quality assurance to improve student performance and close the achievement gap. The New Mexico Teacher of the Year promotes excellence in teaching, is a source of inspiration to other teachers to strive for improving the quality of education within their own classrooms, therein providing the tools necessary for New Mexico students to succeed.
Jessica Sanders has been teaching for 12 years, three of which have been spent at Berrendo Middle School. She plays an active role in the New Mexico Science Teachers Association, where she serves as President-elect. In November 2017, the New Mexico Academy of Science presented Mrs. Sanders with the New Mexico Science Teacher of the Year award. Last year, she was named a Golden Apple winner, and she is one of the first-ever recipients of New Mexico’s Excellence in Teaching Awards, which comes with $10,000 for math & science teachers achieving the highest distinction in their craft.
As a child with dyslexia, reading was often frustrating and disappointing for Mrs. Sanders. However, after finding the support she needed through her middle school language arts teacher, Mrs. Sanders began to thrive. Mrs. Sanders’ reading teacher helped improve her reading fluency and comprehension, and taught Mrs. Sanders to be a fighter and to leverage both triumph and adversity to her students’ benefit. Mrs. Sanders shares her passion for science with her students on a daily basis—she has previously coordinated with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to formulate hands-on lesson plans where students learn about New Mexico’s native ecology at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.