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Seven New Mexico high school teachers have earned the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The Golden Apple Award has been given since 1996 to 102 New Mexico teachers, recognizing that the quality of their teaching is the single most important factor in their students’ academic success.
Jean Baca teaches biology (with special education students included in regular education classes) and anatomy and physiology at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque Public Schools.
David Bair teaches 9th grade world history and student government at Bosque School, a private school in Albuquerque. In his application, Bair described his own struggles as a student, having a very late diagnosis of dyslexia when he was in college.
Kris Gracey teaches health education at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque Public Schools. Students, parents and colleagues at La Cueva High School described her consistently as a remarkably positive influence on the lives of her students, while the selection team noted her “deep grasp of the content area and of the behavioral and psychological development of teens.”
Kim O’Byrne teaches agriscience, biology, and physical science at Mayfield High School in Las Cruces Public Schools, with about one-third of her students coming from special education or native Spanish speaking populations.
Barbara Pearlman teaches 9th and 12th grade English as well as the yearbook class at Hot Springs High School in Truth or Consequences Municipal Schools. Pearlman was nominated by students Eric Mays and Victoria Melendez (a Golden Apple Scholar preparing to become a teacher).
Anthony Rodriguez teaches algebra, geometry, and math strategies to special education students at Cibola High School in Albuquerque Public Schools.
Amy Simpson teaches English, advanced placement English, film literacy and film making at Alma d’arte Charter High School in Las Cruces. A high school dropout herself, Simpson went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree from Teachers College at Columbia University.
The Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico was founded in 1994. Each year the award rotates among levels, with 2011 awards – the 16th year - going to high school teachers.
The award-winning teachers were nominated last spring by either their school’s principal or by other teachers, parents, students or community members. The 135 teachers nominated teach at 62 different schools in 30 communities. Nominees represent 23 of New Mexico’s 89 districts, with 19 teaching at charter schools and 12 at private schools from around the state.
Nominated teachers complete a lengthy application describing their teaching methodology, professional development experiences, community volunteerism, and other aspects of their teaching philosophy.
Applications are read and scored first by teachers who have won the Award in past years and then by a selection committee composed of active and retired educators.
Seventeen teachers were selected as finalists.