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In her fifth year of teaching, Kristen Martines credits her students for making it all worth while.
Bonding with them throughout the year and seeing how they develop, transform and grow is what most thrills the 29-year-old third grade teacher at Piñon Elementary School.
“The kids are definitely the best part of my job,” Martines said. “My challenge is not having enough time for all there is to do.”
That’s understandable considering the vivacious mother of two young boys also is working on her master’s degree in special education with an emphasis on visually impaired students.
Martines and her husband, Jason Martines, live in White Rock with their sons Jaxon, 5, and Maddox, 21 months.
She explained that she loved working the first four years of her career at Aspen Elementary School.
“I never wanted to leave Aspen but Jaxon was starting Kindergarten,” she said. “But it’s also been wonderful at Piñon this year. The staff has been welcoming and nurturing and I have a great third grade team of three teachers. They’ve made the transition really smooth.”
Martines also expressed appreciation for Piñon Principal Megan Lee whom she described as, “very supportive and encouraging – a principal who takes really good care of her staff and students.”
Born in Lewiston, Maine, Martines eventually moved from Nashville to Los Alamos with her parents because her grandparents lived in the area, she said.
Her father, Eliud Vigil, works at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her mother, Clara Vigil, teaches seventh grade math at Los Alamos Middle School, a position she has held for more than 10 years.
“She’s definitely where I got my teaching roots from,” Martines said of her mother. “Also, when I was little I struggled in school and remember having wonderful teachers who really cared and helped me.”
From the time she was very young, Martines said she wanted to become a teacher.
“My best Christmas present ever was when I was about seven and I got a bright blue easel chalkboard. I would play school and my stuffed animals were my students,” she said.
Martines was in eighth grade when she moved here. She went on to graduate from Los Alamos High School in 1997.
She also graduated from New Mexico State University with a degree in elementary education. Martines also is completing her master’s degree at NMSU.