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Student Corner

Student Corner 2022-11-28T15:29:04-07:00

Mark Kolokoff

PED Youth and Community Liaison

Mark is a Chicago native and has been teaching for over three decades. He holds a BA in Theatre, a dance minor, and an MA in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC).Mark has directed over 75 theatre production ranging from straight plays to musicals and loves the creative process! He was Colorado’s High School Theatre Teacher of the Year in 2009, given the Educator’s Award by UNC’s Graduate Program in 2012 and inducted into the Colorado State Thespian Hall of Fame in 2013. As the new Youth and Community Liaison, Mark is very excited to continue his work with the young people of New Mexico and help facilitate having their voices impact their education and access to opportunities. Mark has been married to Jeannette for 39 years and has two children, Briana, and Weston. He also enjoys playing Pickle Ball, cultivating roses, working with dogs (especially his poodle, Roxie) and of course, theatre.

I have created a Student Corner page as part of the Public Education Department’s website so students can access information they may need. It is intended to be a resource and a stimulus for students who want to better understand the educational landscape they navigate daily.

In the coming months I not only will continue to post relevant information and resources, but I will create space for students to submit their own work and ideas.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns, and comments at

Mark.Kolokoff@ped.nm.gov


Student Submissions

We want to hear from you!

I’ve created a section of the Student Corner for high school submissions for students who want to share their opinions, thoughts, comments, poetry and writing with their community. This is intended to facilitate student engagement by fostering curiosity, interest, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught. It is our goal to support students in their education endeavors and to develop and create their own voices to continue being productive citizens.

Guidelines for submissions

  • All work must be original and appropriate for public viewing. They should be proof read and revised for grammatical accuracy.
  • For high school students, you must be at least 14 years old to submit!
  • Each piece must be accompanied by signature from a parent or guardian. This is meant to confirm the originality of the work and to confirm parental permission to publish student work, name, and school information.
  • Submissions will be typed in 12-point Times New Roman, in .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) format. PDFs will NOT be accepted.

Submit your work to mark.kolokoff@ped.nm.gov

PED reserves the right to screen all writing and make determinations concerning publication

With thanks,

Mark Kolokoff, Youth and Community Liaison

New Mexico Public Education Department

The bluebird sings in delight as his children emerge from their eggs while the cherry tree’s blossoms sway in the breeze

A young girl with sun-kissed hair and tanned skin scampers out to tend to the horses

She brushes the dust from their dappled coats until they are silky smooth

Long tails swat at the buzzing flies, soft deep brown eyes blink shut as a silky breeze swirls the scattered hay playfully around their knees

Clutching the eggs from the hens while the rooster is hot on her heels,

She rushes up the porch steps and gently lays the white jewels in the waiting wicker basket,

Then runs off to play in the crisp spring day and romp in the cool morning dew

Snapdragons, petunias, tulips bloom

As the sun’s shimmering rays kiss soft petals, a shower brings down sparkling diamonds of rain

Let the drops of happiness drip onto your tongue and take you away


Youth Engagement Power Point

This Youth Engagement Power Point contains information regarding the program at PED. It offers insights into the value of youth engagement and programs that exist in schools around the country to help young people navigate their way in today’s complex world.


Internships, Apprenticeships, and More

It can be difficult to get the real-world experience so often required by prospective employers. Internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, and volunteering can provide those opportunities to “try out” a potential career and to gain useful, marketable experience in a particular field.

New Mexico Workforce Solutions has an excellent website for students seeking opportunities and employers seeking interns and apprentices. In addition to postings of resumés and position postings, they have tips on applying, resumé and cover letter writing, and reasons to become or to hire an intern or apprentice.

NM Workforce Solutions Internship Site

NMOST: New Mexico Out of School Time Network

Air Force Research Labs

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program offers stipend-paid summer internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate level university students pursuing STEM degrees, as well as upper-level high school students; select locations also offer internships to university students pursuing education-related degrees and K-12 professional educators. The selected interns gain valuable hands-on experiences working with full-time AFRL scientists and engineers on cutting-edge research and technology and are able to contribute to unique, research-based projects. Graduate interns are able to collaborate with AFRL on current research and incorporate the research into their graduate work.

Los Alamos National Labs

The Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) high school internship program provides qualified northern New Mexico high school seniors the opportunity to develop skills and gain work experience, while receiving exposure to a variety of career fields.

Explora

Explora’s Youth Intern Program involves high school students in a three-year internship during which they experience an engaging approach to learning and become educators in their community. Application deadlines early in each year.

UNM School of Engineering

High school students considering pursuing STEM (science, technology, math or engineering) majors in college have a unique opportunity for hands-on research under the guidance of undergraduates, graduate students and/or faculty. UNM Engineering coordinates research experiences for high school students as part of the School’s participation in National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), which bring academia and industry together to conduct research and educate students. Further information.

USAJobs

If you’re a current student or recent graduate, you may be eligible for federal internships and job opportunities through the Pathways and other student programs.


Summer Enrichment Internship Program

SPO Announces Summer Internship Program for High School and College Students

The State Personnel Office is encouraging New Mexico students to apply for paid internships through their Summer Internship Program. Opportunities are available throughout the state in over 15 New Mexico state agencies for high school, undergraduate and graduate students.

The New Mexico State Personnel Office Summer Internship Program offers students valuable work experience and the opportunity to be mentored by industry professionals and to develop work-related skills. Internship opportunities vary by agency.

“These opportunities will give students an edge over other job applicants when entering the workforce.”

Becoming an intern with the State of New Mexico is a great way to engage in career exploration, career planning, and networking, and is a great way to build professional connections and references.

Internship length is dependent on the type of internship, though all will last throughout the summer. To view positions available and to apply visit the State Personnel Office at www.spo.state.nm.us/internship-opportunities

Agencies offering internship positions include:

  • Adult Parole Board
  • Aging and Long-Term Services Department
  • Attorney General’s Office
  • Children, Youth and Families Department
  • Cultural Affairs Department
  • Department of Finance and Administration
  • Economic Development Department
  • Office of Natural Resources Trustee
  • Public Education Department
  • Regulation and Licensing Department
  • Secretary of State
  • Taxation and Revenue Department
  • Worker’s Compensation Agency
  • Department of Workforce Solutions

Secretary’s Student Advisory Committee

These students from around the state make up the Secretary’s Student Advisory Committee. They meet with the Secretary of Education on a quarterly basis and discuss issues that impact students in New Mexico. The high school that they attend is also included.

Student Town/City/High School
Antonio Murua Las Cruces
Carlyse Hernandez Moriarty-Edgewood/UNM
Gavin Morrow Des Moines/Pecos Cyber Academy
Keana Huerta Cobre
Dublin/Leo Slack APS – East Mountain
Paloma Del Valle Gadsden/Harvard University
Tatiana Herrera APS – Atrisco Heritage Academy-Albuquerque
Ane Silva SFHS-Santa Fe
Sawyer Headley Masters Prog. HS-Santa Fe
Luke Lothole NACA
Kasey Booqua NACA
Chase Roberts La Cueva High School

Seven student advisory committee members.

Some of the committee at the last Secretary’s Advisory meeting in August in Albuquerque. They were taking part on a panel discussion of issues that are important to young people in New Mexico.


Resources for Youth

Below is a list of Youth Programs in New Mexico and grouped by Category. Young people can access these organizations through their websites.

Youth Voice

Youth Advocacy

Recreational/Performing/Arts-based

Educational

Social/Emotional

Educational Competitions

College and Career/Work/Life skills

Leadership/Engagement

Boy Scouts of America-New Mexico

Additional Resources

Career Technical Education Brochure

New Mexico Lottery Scholarship

New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship


At a Glance

Self-advocacy is a skill that teens can learn with help and practice. As teens mature, and continue to hone their skills, they take on greater responsibility for actively advocating for themselves and develop an important skill that supports lifelong success. Following are some strategies to help young people acquire the skills that will serve them well as they go through school and beyond.

Start Understandibng Teachers Early On

Teens often worry that teachers don’t like them if they ask too many questions or speak up for themselves. Rest assured that most good teachers respect active learners, and are eager to help all students, regardless of their learning style. Do not hesitate to seek answers to your questions!

Encourage Self-Awareness

As they progress through their education, students should become increasingly aware of their specific assets and deficits and what specific help they need to succeed. Practice, when at school, as in most of life, to interact with adults with politeness and a positive attitude. This usually results in favorable outcomes and will help in developing positive relationships. Teens will be well-received when they offer respect first.

Stay Positive

When teens stay positive, no matter their level of frustration and anger, their interactions with adults will move in the right directions. Although hard to do, teens should always work on believing that there is a positive result that can come from any difficult situation. Teens need to clearly identify what they need and how an adult may support them.

Support Critical Thinking- Self Analysis

Teens should try to sort out their strengths and weaknesses in non-confrontational settings. This will develop the confidence and awareness they need to speak for themselves. Consider the answers to these questions:

How do I best learn?

Am I an experiential learner, auditory learner, visual learner, kinesthetic learner, or tactile leaner (hand’s on)?

By knowing this, it will help teens communicate with their teachers the best practices that help them succeed.

What works best for me when I am confused and can’t figure out what to do?

How do I seek help?

How best do I communicate and what do I expect after I connect with others?

Engage In Problem-Solving

Try to discover which teachers clarify and which ones confuse, which approaches are calming, and which are chaotic. Brainstorm with friends

to find helpful, coping strategies within your class. Students who envision positive possibilities are better equipped to approach continuing challenges.

Promote Self-Advocacy

Teens need to know that it’s appropriate to inform a teacher of issues and circumstances that impact them and their learning. Do not be afraid to let adults know what is happening in your life and how they can help, it’s alright to need and ask for help!

Require Involvement

Knowledge is power! High schoolers should be encouraged to participate in the process that defines their learning. They should know their rights to fully understand how to advocate for themselves. Learn what rights teens have in school and how to make sure they are not being denied those rights.

Plan For The Future

Long before graduation approaches, teens should play an active role in the transition planning that affects life after high school. Summer internships, jobs, or pre-college, campus-based programs can offer wonderful firsthand experience for real-world possibilities. Teens that are proactive (acting before the situation is upon them), are more ready to make informed and smart decisions. Planning is the key!

Build Self-Esteem

Successful self-advocacy starts with self-esteem. The strongest self-advocates are those who feel best about themselves. Believe in your own capabilities and strive to develop your full potential. This is all self-advocacy!

By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP


11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Teens and young adults today are more stressed, anxious, depressed and lonely than ever – at least in the United States.

It seems to be a perfect storm of several factors. Social media and Additional forces plaguing Gen Z and college-age Millennials include worries about their future, climate change, economic and job uncertainty, identity and image, academic pressures and being over-scheduled.

Gen Z and Millennials are also becoming more aware of mental health challenges, particularly their own anxiety and depression. And, most scary is that depression and suicide are on the rise and have reached an all-time high.

Here are some things that can be included in a toolbox to promote well-being. Many of these are in the Clay Center Videos on Middle School, High School and College Self-Care.

Tools for Self-Care

  1. Carve out time. This is the basic pre-requisite for just about all the ways to take of yourself. You need time, and it has to be part of a daily routine. Many of the activities below don’t require a lot of time – some only take up 15-20 minutes in your day. It’s the regularity that counts.
  2. Meditation. We’ve come a long way from meditation being considered hocus pocus. Mindful meditation has proven to change the structure and function of the brain, and it’s a fabulous way to promote relaxation while reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. It can be learned in-person with an expert, or online (there are plenty of YouTube instructional videos or smartphone apps).
  3. Yoga. Yoga and other types of Eastern methods of activity involve stretching, improving flexibility, connecting mind and body – all of which are helpful for stress reduction and wellness.
  4. Exercise. Working out comes in many forms. There’s training for strength, endurance, and aerobic activity (getting your heart beat up). But simply walking 2 miles a day is great exercise – plus it gets you outside!
  5. Get some sleep. Easier said than done, but sleep deprivation is detrimental to a person’s thinking, and their physical and emotional state. Try to have as regular a sleep schedule.
  6. Creative expression. Choose a creative outlet to convey your thoughts and feelings. This could be journaling, writing poetry, painting or drawing, doing photography, dancing, or playing music.
  7. Play with a pet. If you are lucky and can have a pet, there may be few better ways to foster self-care. Cuddling with a pet, taking care of them, and feeling their unconditional love is something we rarely experience on such a consistent basis.
  8. Meet and communicate with friends. Research has found that meeting with peers and talking about what’s going on with you — including past events you’re still processing — prevents burnout and promotes well-being. It only takes a few special friends to make a big difference in your life.
  9. Appreciate nature. There’s a reason we treasure our state and national parks, waterways, and beaches. There is something to our relationship with the outdoors that makes us feel good, if we can allow ourselves a few minutes not to rush or be disturbed by our ring tones.
  10. Turn off smart phones (at least for part of the day). It’s hard. But really, you don’t need it on constantly, as if it’s stitched to your side. How many texts, Instagram stories or other digital communications do you need to see immediately? Very few!
  11. Do something for someone else. Our brains are wired for giving. In fact, the chemicals released by the brain during the process of giving is far more rewarding than when we receive gifts. Giving fosters the feeling (and reality) that you are making a positive impact on another person’s life.

Bottom line: In all times, we need ways to help maintain our ability to cope. Self-care techniques are fundamental for preventing stress before it strikes and are fundamental for sustaining equilibrium during hard times!

Psychology Today: Eugene Beresin, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.


Here is an article about mental wellness rooms that some students may want to discuss with their school administrators. These rooms have proven to be beneficial in helping young people deal with the stress that may overcome them during the school day.

Megan Taros, The Santa Fe New Mexican

August 30, 2022

Aug. 31—A state task force charged with finding ways to address a decline in mental health among public school students heard from teachers and administrators Monday about efforts at three districts to tackle the problem with new “wellness spaces.”

The Las Cruces, Alamogordo and Taos school districts are creating comfortable spaces for students and staff to relax, relieve stress and curb burnout.

The task force, created by the Legislature in 2021, is gathering data from around the nation on wellness spaces to determine their effectiveness and aims to submit recommendations to the Legislature on Nov. 1 on whether a pilot project in public schools would be beneficial.

Rep. Pamelya Herndon, D-Albuquerque, who introduced a House memorial creating the task force, told the group during a meeting at the state Capitol adolescents were struggling with mental health before the coronavirus pandemic, a problem that worsened in the last couple of years.

“The pandemic, of course, often had a widespread and often devastating effect on our students, both at school and at home, and impacted not just their studies, but their mental health and their well-being,” Herndon said. “Many of our youth … lost family members or were affected by illness and economic hardships in their households.”

Herndon cited a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found 50 percent of students in the U.S. experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the pandemic, and 25 percent of those students said they had seriously considered suicide.

In 2019, the CDC found feelings of sadness and hopelessness in students had jumped 40 percent from 2009, according to a report. The report said 1 in 6 children made a suicide plan, a 44 percent increase from a decade earlier.

So far, about 10 New Mexico schools are on a list to participate in a pilot program on wellness centers.

Some schools already are prioritizing mental health as part of their district’s pandemic recovery. At Las Cruces Public Schools, the second-largest district in New Mexico, 21 percent of schools have created wellness spaces in classrooms and another 28 percent are developing them, said Soña Alaniz Saiz, the district’s coordinator of mental health and academic counseling.

Saiz said the district had an unexpected excess of Title IV funds — federal money that can be used to boost student support — and used it to buy items like beanbag chairs, coloring books and exercise bands to create “starter kits” for wellness rooms in schools that didn’t have them.

Schools are using the rooms for both prevention and intervention, she said, meaning some students are referred to wellness spaces to work with the counselors and teachers who staff them. Many of the spaces also evolved into gathering places where students feel they can be themselves, Saiz said.

Refugee students use the spaces for prayer during school, she added, which brings “a sense of welcome and belonging.”

Students at Taos High School made a video pitch for the principal detailing what a mental wellness room could look like, said Emy Martínez-DeHerrera, the school’s dean of instruction.

Taos High has worked with the local LOR Foundation to create a staff wellness room and then received a grant for the student spaces.

The school didn’t have enough staff to create a separate room, but students suggested smaller spaces around the campus to accomplish the same goals.

Students brought in motivational posters, put couches and tables around the school and put beanbag chairs in the library. They also offer bike rentals for students who don’t have access to one.

Additional supplies like a microwave for student use, plants and seating in hallways have led to students moving around the school more during breaks.

Martínez-DeHerrera said students told her they feel like the spaces are truly for them and have actively maintained the spaces. “There’s a lot of ownership there and a lot of agency in regards to what they’re willing to do,” she said.

Lisa Patch, director of health services at Alamogordo Public Schools, said the district is working to develop a centrally located wellness space for teachers.

The pandemic and school safety issues contributed to teacher burnout nationwide, she said, citing a recent Gallup poll that found 44 percent of K-12 teachers surveyed said they were “always” or “very often” burned out. One in 4 teachers reported experiencing depression at the beginning of 2021, while administrators said they were struggling with ways to support their staff.

The district’s teacher wellness center would include coffee and water stations, massage chairs, a book club in which participants would read books about how to support their own mental well-being, on-site mental health care and a relaxation room or a calming space where teachers can stretch out, do light exercise and monitor their blood pressure.

The district also is working to connect teachers with health care providers.

“This really is changing the culture of our schools,” Patch said. “… I feel like if teachers are not healthy in that way, they’re not going to recognize the students’ needs until they’ve addressed their own.”


A study by faculty at the University of Victoria Canada distilled seven design themes that impact the sense of place and wellbeing of building occupants:

  1. Freedom-Control
  2. Nature
  3. Materials
  4. Art
  5. Acoustics
  6. Light
  7. Air Quality & Thermal Comfort

Examples of Wellness Rooms. Try to find the common elements of each.


It is important to understand how your school is structured. Below, I have listed 4 school engagement models. Which one sounds like the school you attend? Do you want it to be different? Or is it working well for you?

Model 1 — Independent

This model is based on the assumption that Stakeholders delegate to schools the responsibility for educating their children. Educators in turn accept the responsibility. Stakeholders hold the school accountable. The school works independent of Stakeholders to educate children Involvement in decision making and working together is considered inappropriate or unnecessary by the school. There are few, if any, opportunities to share resources or responsibilities.

Model 2 — Mission-driven

The school establishes the mission and enlists Stakeholders’ support. The school identifies appropriate values and practices for children’s success. The school believes that success is fostered by similar expectations and values across school and home. The direction is primarily from school to home with little input from other groups.

Model 3 — Cooperative

The school recognizes the expertise Stakeholders have. The school assumes that interactions between home and school are helpful. One main attitude is that individuals and educators each have unique expertise related to education. Educators draw on Stakeholders’ knowledge and experiences to enhance instruction. The drawbacks in this model occur when schools do one of the following:

  • See the curriculum as all important and fixed in place.
  • Are not willing to invite Stakeholders to be part of curricular decision making.
  • Do not think broadly about bridging school and home resources.

Model 4 — Collaborative

The school works with Stakeholders to accomplish a common mission for children’s educational success. There is collaboration among parents, educators, and community members. Collaboration occurs through two-way communication, recognizing Stakeholders’ strengths, and solving problems together. The school is open to exploring new policies, practices, relationships, and attitudes that foster partnering for children’s school success.


Page last updated November 28, 2022