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Piñon looks to keep momentum going

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

The Piñon Panthers are ready for another exciting year as principal Jill Gonzales begins her fifth year at Piñon and serving students in education since 1995.
Gonzales and her staff rose to the challenge in excellence last year as they worked to implement several initiatives: the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Teacher Evaluation System, Common Core State Standards, PowerSchool grading system, and a new math adoption.
“In addition, we continued to participate in the Smithsonian/Department of Education’s Laser i3 inquiry-based science research project as well as participating as a control group in a national math research project,” said Gonzales. “Through it all, our teachers and staff always sought to put the academic, social and emotional needs of students first.”
There’s no doubt there, as the obvious energy, smiles and engagement is seen throughout the classrooms and at play.
Piñon had much to be proud of in the way of accomplishments the previous year. These included teachers who completed masters’ programs, National Board Certification and Dossiers, to new fun and innovative programs such as Readers Raise the Roof, Family Literacy Night, Piñon’s Variety Show, Hour of Code, Math and Science Night.
“On the ever-important issue of safety, all staff participated in active shooter response scenarios, our safety team worked with police to improve and create differentiated drills,” said Gonzales. “We installed video surveillance cameras – all of which contribute to our overall plan.”
Piñon will also incorporate the Raptor System, as part of a screening process for all visitors on campus.
The Raptor system will be an important addition for the many volunteers that contribute to the success of campus programs, like Spark time Wednesdays, Rosetta Stone language club and more.
“At Piñon, we love our volunteers,” said Gonzales. “So many of the rich experiences that students and staff enjoy are because of the commitment from our parents and community members who desire to provide the best learning environment possible.”
The Panther crew always strives to do better, work smarter, review work, analyze data, and reflect on instruction, all while making strategic changes to improve learning outcomes.
“The entire staff at Piñon is so thankful for the privilege of teaching your children,” said Gonzales. “Thank you for your trust, support, encouragement and partnership.”
This summer, her family celebrated her father’s 80th birthday with a week-long family reunion at Lake Alamanor, Calif. The Gonzales family trip included climbing Lassen Volcanic Peak, jet skiing, kayaking, boating, stand up paddling and as is true with all educators, reading.
This school year, Piñon will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The planning for the fall celebration is underway, which will highlight “Piñon Through the Decades.” Those wishing to help with a special 50th Birthday Float in the Homecoming Parade, should contact the Piñon main office.