March 20, 2023
New Mexico Educators Honored for Math and Science Teaching
SANTA FE – Four teachers are in the running for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), serving as models and inspiration for educators and students across the state.
The finalists are:
- Kimberly Conell, Albuquerque Public Schools (math)
- Debbie Grothaus, Los Alamos Public Schools (science)
- Amanda Kraft, New Mexico International School (science)
- Christopher Speck, Albuquerque Public Schools (science)
New Mexico’s finalists are honored to be spotlighted.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my practice,” said Kraft, a science teacher whose school is in Albuquerque. “As cringy as it feels to watch a video of yourself teaching, I’ve learned so much about what I don’t notice while I am teaching a lesson. This entire process has given me the gift of perspective.”
Speck, a teacher at Garfield STEM School, said being a finalist validates his work.
“The application process was beneficial because it helped me reflect and showcase the ways in which I work to develop students’ scientific understanding,” he said.
Meanwhile, Grothaus said being a finalist allows her to stretch her influence and be a role model.
“It was made very clear to me through the application process that good educators are not created in a vacuum, but by the influence and help of the people around them, said the physics teacher at Los Alamos High School. “Having the opportunity to truly reflect on my teaching made me very thankful for all the people that have influenced me over the years: my colleagues, my mentors and especially my students. I would not be the educator I am without them.”
For math teacher Conell, the prestige means something both personally and professionally.
“Professionally, it reaffirms my commitment to the teaching profession and motivates me to continue striving for excellence,” said the teacher at Albuquerque’s La Cueva High School. “Personally, it is a gratifying experience that makes me feel appreciated and valued for the work that I do.”
Each year, a national committee of prominent mathematicians, scientists, mathematics/science education researchers, district-level personnel and classroom teachers recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST honors.
One or two teachers — mathematics or science — from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity receive the award.
Educators who are selected as PAEMST national awardees receive a trip to Washington, D.C., where they attend a series of recognition events and professional-learning opportunities. They also receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, a presidential certificate and join an elite cohort of award-winning teachers who can influence STEM teaching at the local, state and national level.
March 15, 2023
Dr. Arsenio Romero Confirmed as New PED Cabinet Secretary
Ready to “Steer the Ship” of New Mexico’s Education
SANTA FE – Dr. Arsenio Romero is New Mexico’s top education leader. It was made official today when lawmakers confirmed him as the cabinet secretary for the Public Education Department.
“Sec. Romero has lived the education experience as a student, teacher and leader,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “His expansive resume speaks for itself during this crucial moment as we increase student outcomes and elevate New Mexico education on the national stage. I look forward to seeing his continued innovation and inspiration at play as he makes changes in our public education system.”
“He is the kind of thinker we need now,” said Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, calling him “visionary” and someone who is “laser-focused on student achievement.”
Romero, who said he is here for the “long haul,” credited his mother, a first-grade teacher, as inspiring him to walk the education journey.
“I am right where I want and need to be,” he said. “I understand the vast cultural capital that exists in our state and know that our children will not succeed in spite of where they come from, but rather they will succeed because of where they come from.”
Using data to inform decision-making, Romero plans to boost graduation rates. His key areas of focus will be on Career and Technical Education, Structured Literacy and promoting the learning of other languages. He also aims to enhance teacher recruitment and retention and build connections with the Early Childhood Education and Care and Higher Education departments.
The new education secretary, appointed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, started work March 4. Today’s confirmation on the Senate floor was preceded by a unanimous vote in the Senate Rules Committee.
Romero replaces interim Public Education Cabinet Secretary Mariana Padilla who stepped in after Dr. Kurt Steinhaus retired in late January. Padilla will continue to support PED in her role as Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Children’s Cabinet director.
A native New Mexican, the new cabinet secretary has spent the last quarter-century serving New Mexico communities as a school and district leader. Prior to his appointment as Public Education Department secretary-designate, Romero served as superintendent of Los Lunas Schools and superintendent and CEO of Deming Public Schools.
As assistant superintendent for instruction and transformation for the Roswell Independent School District, Romero oversaw curriculum. And since 2013, he has been a lead performance coach/executive coach for PED. He started his career in education as an elementary school teacher and principal for Las Cruces Public Schools. In addition, he taught at New Mexico State University since 2014 and joined the NMSU Board of Regents in 2020. Romero’s greatest source of pride is his family. He and his wife Amber, an educator, are the proud parents of four children. All were present during the confirmation today.
Those who spoke on behalf of his confirmation called him optimistic and realistic lifetime learner, as well as an honest collaborator who is student- and family-centered.
“At the end of the day, he makes the best decisions for students,” said Deborah Elder, interim superintendent of Los Lunas Schools, where she served under Romero. “We could not be in better hands.”
Amanda Aragon, executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN stated: “He is absolutely the right person to lead us forward. He is personally invested in this.”
Joe Guillen, executive director of the New Mexico School Boards Association, applauded the new education secretary’s professional and vast experience.
“His leadership and ability to build consensus among diverse stakeholders is well known throughout education circles, as is his ability to serve as a spokesman and advocate on key educational issues,” Guillen said. “New Mexico’s 89 school boards look forward to working closely with Secretary Romero.”
During support on the senate floor, Sen. Linda Lopez expressed her appreciation of his ongoing work in public education.
“I know that your heart is with our children, with our communities,” she said.
February 21, 2023
New Mexico Among States Receiving Grant for Student Well-Being
School District, Educational Cooperative Awarded Millions of Dollars
SANTA FE – Silver Consolidated Schools and Central Region Educational Cooperative (CREC) are recipients of federal money aimed to address mental health in schools in the wake of a global pandemic.
- The school district in Silver City will get $6 million over five years.
- The Albuquerque-based cooperative will be awarded almost $6.6 million over five years to support Estancia, Magdalena, Mountainair, Jemez Valley, Quemado, Vaughn, and Belen school districts.
The U.S. Department of Education announced the funding to 170 entities in more than 30 states this week, amounting to $188 million from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The money will improve access to mental-health services inside schools and provide a more robust pipeline of certified mental-health professions flowing into areas with high needs.
Research shows that students’ social and emotional needs must be met before they can fully learn, feel safe and develop trusting relationships with peers and school staff. Mental-health professionals play a key role in addressing and supporting these needs.
The New Mexico Public Education Department’s budget winding its way through the state Legislature calls for $6.5 million to fund behavioral health supports.
“Student well-being is a crucial component in our schools, without it we can’t open the door to academic success,” said Interim Education Cabinet Secretary Mariana Padilla. “I am pleased that this grant money is making its way into New Mexico, helping students in various parts of our state, including rural areas. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have on our students and educators.”
Maria Jaramillo, executive director of CREC, said the money will be used to hire eight licensed mental-health providers, including school psychologists, social workers and behavior interventionists to work with and strengthen schools’ existing supports by forming regional teams.
“Over the past two years, our member school districts had identified the provision of mental health supports and services for regular education students as a high priority need,” she said. “This funding will allow the CREC to provide direct student services, as well as professional learning opportunities that will meet the unique needs of these individual schools and communities.”
Other ways the grant money will be used in the seven districts include the delivery of virtual online student/teacher mental-health services and access to a comprehensive mobile app to assist students with an around-the-clock crisis center.
Mental health is a top priority for Silver Consolidated Schools, too.
“These funds will allow us to provide support for ALL of our students’ and staff’s social emotional well-being,” said Cindy Barris, associated superintendent for instruction, adding that funds will be used for additional positions, materials and training.
“When we speak about mitigating the effects of adverse childhood experiences, we are hoping to change the trajectory of the lives of those in our community who have suffered through various unspoken personal traumas,” she said. “In turn, we expect to improve the quality of life for future generations in Grant County.”
January 26, 2023
New PED Deputy Cabinet Secretary Starts Work
Jacquelyn Archuleta-Staehlin Brings Vast Experience
SANTA FE – The Public Education Department is proud to welcome Jacquelyn Archuleta-Staehlin as its newest deputy cabinet secretary.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something to make a difference,” said the product of Santa Fe Public Schools who was born in New Mexico.
As part of her role, Ms. Archuleta-Staehlin will oversee the action plan related to the Martinez/Yazzie Consolidated Lawsuit, which creates an equitable system of supports for students, especially those who are English learners, Native Americans, have an Individualized Education Program and/or are socio-economically disadvantaged.
“I am beginning with the end in mind,” she said. “By devoting our work to the mission of making sure that these student groups have the resources, support and creative partnerships to unlock their inherent gifts, we are writing the playbook on access to high-quality education.”
Secretary of Education Kurt Steinhaus agreed. “We know Jackie will champion positive educational experiences and improved outcomes for all New Mexico students. Her experience will fit in well with the work we are doing to move the education needle.”
Formerly a partner in the Santa Fe office of Cuddy & McCarthy, Ms. Archuleta-Staehlin focused on education and disability law during much of her 30 years there. She has served as a Commissioner for the State Bar of New Mexico and president for the New Mexico Women’s Bar and is a member of the Hispanic Bar Association. She received her bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University and her law degree from the University of New Mexico.
The new deputy cabinet secretary has an adult son who lives in Japan with her three granddaughters.
Although she had contemplated retirement, Ms. Archuleta-Staehlin took the job “to make things better,” she said, adding, “let’s see what the new adventures hold.”
January 5, 2023
PED Receives $300,000 Grant to Benefit Social Studies and Art Teaching and Learning
Money Earmarked for Engagement and Learning
SANTA FE – A $300,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will make it possible for the New Mexico Public Education Department to partner with educators to expand culturally and linguistically responsive instruction in social studies and art classrooms around the state.
“We are excited about this opportunity for education leaders to help ‘move the needle’ on learning activities that directly relate to a child’s background and culture,” said PED Secretary Kurt Steinhaus.
The grant award fits nicely with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s unwavering focus on education during her first term. In her inauguration speech last Sunday that kicked off her next four years in office, she spotlighted educators, calling them an investment that New Mexico’s students depend upon in their communities.
The Kellogg Foundation, created in 1930, funds projects that help vulnerable children succeed individually and contribute within their families and communities.
The two-year award will include in-person and virtual opportunities in regions and communities across the Land of Enchantment, the continuation of Communities of Practice in social studies and art, teacher stipends and coverage of leadership training conference fees.
“The dedicated staff at the Literacy and Humanities Bureau saw that there was a great need for providing teachers with professional development support that puts diverse student needs at the center,” said its director, Severo Martinez, adding that this is the first time his bureau has received a Kellogg grant. “This grant allows us to provide a variety of high-quality professional development, which is a crucial tool during this time of transition into the new social studies standards and in support of bolstering more robust art programs that focus on the whole child.”
Both teachers and students will benefit from the grant, according to Lorraine Archibald, PED humanities specialist who will oversee the management of the funds.
For example, projects will ensure social studies teachers are supported when it comes to the new standards and educators learn how to integrate art across content areas. They will be provided guidance about how to be “culturally competent and empowered to meet the needs of their students,” said Archibald.
Meanwhile, the grant will boost student engagement by emphasizing social and emotional well-being, as well as valuing and celebrating cultural backgrounds.