More scholars recall influential teachers

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By The Staff



Ten outstanding students have been awarded the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation scholarship. Each student demonstrated a balance of academic excellence, extracurricular participation and community service throughout their high school careers. Winners chose an educator of distinction, an education professional that had a positive impact on the student’s time in the Los Alamos Public Schools. 

Last week, the Los Alamos Monitor printed five of the 10 students honored. Here are the other five. 

Hannah Dye chose Natasha Barkhudarova her Ballroom Dance teacher LAHS. 

Dye said of Miss Natasha as she is affectionately called by her students. “The first thing I noticed about her is how very much she loves dance. The second thing I noticed is how much she wants us — anybody else — to enjoy dance as much as she does. Miss Natasha pushes us to be the best that we can be, and this motivation and sense of belonging has translated to other parts of my life as well. I have never been so relaxed or productive as I have been since I began dancing.” 

Dye will attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas to study Environmental Science. She is the daughter of Rob and Cathy Dye. 

Alexandra Hehlen chose Catherine Puranananda her Advance Placement Literature teacher.

Hehlen said of Puranananda, “She has made me a better writer. While this may seem minor, constant improvement in and feedback on my writing skills is integral to success in my future. Ms. Puranananda fosters a strong connection with her students. She participates in class discussions and activities just like another student would, rarely standing at the board with a marker in a more conventional manner.”

Hehlen will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study Journalism and Business, with plans to pursue a career as an international correspondent. She is the daughter of Markus and Bettina Hehlen. 

Richard Jia chose Joy Handsberry, his academic advisor and AP Calculus teacher. 

Jia said of Handsberry, “She loves her job and there is hardly a day where she does not consistently teach with great enthusiasm. She goes out of her way to make sure each and every one of her students are is caught up to speed on each lesson. Her unwavering work ethic and personality will allow her to remain as a teacher I will never forget.” 

Jia will attend the University of California at Davis to study Biomedicine with plans to pursue a career in dentistry with a specialization in orthodontics. Jia is the son of Quanxi Jia and Yi Yuan. 

Merelle Naud chose Anita Boshier her German teacher. 

Naud said of Boshier, “Her teaching style demonstrates how teaching is performance art. At least, that is how she makes class feel — like witnessing a riveting and emotional performance in a foreign language! It is still a mystery to me where Frau Boshier gets all her energy. And that’s what I believe is what makes her stand out as an educator — her animated passion.” 

Naud will attend Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada to study Biology and Education with plans to become a high school biology teacher or a scientist. 

Emily Pittman chose Joy Handsberry her AP Calculus teacher.

Pittman said of Handsberry, “I think that a large part of my decision to go into the mathematical and engineering field in college is due to my having her for a Calculus teacher. Although her class was very challenging, and it took a lot of time and dedication, it has been one of the classes that I have enjoyed the most.” 

Pittman will attend the University of New Mexico to study Mechanical Engineering. She is daughter of Pete and Carissa Pittman.

The LAPS Foundation leverages time, talent and funds to promote innovative learning. 

To learn more about the many projects and programs funded by the organization, visit the website: lapsfoundation.com. Donations can be made by mailing a check to: 1900 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544 or at the website.