• Sanchez: ‘Read to Lead’ is beneficial

    When Lt. Gov. John Sanchez visited Chamisa Elementary School recently, he brought gifts. A lot of them.
    Sanchez and his aides brought stacks and stacks of “B is for Buckaroo,” an alphabet book by Gleaves and Louise Doak Whitney designed for readers kindergarten through third grade.
    The visit coincides with state’s “Read to Lead” initiative, a program Gov. Susana Martinez started in 2012 in an effort to promote literacy.
    Throughout 2015, the governor, as well as the lieutenant governor will be making stops throughout the state, handing out the book to eager students and hopefully igniting a love for reading in the students that will last a lifetime.
    “We can’t think of a better investment that the state can make not only in our kids but our teachers, too,” Sanchez said. “If a child learns how to read then they can keep on learning their entire life. It’s the greatest gift we can give them.”
    During his visit, Sanchez read the entire book to Chamisa’s first, second and third graders before giving them their own copy.
    He also shared with the students his own love of reading and why reading is so important.

  • LAPS says it conducts proper background checks

    Los Alamos Public School Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus issued a statement about the background checks for the district’s employees just hours after the state ordered an immediate check for districts’ compliance to state standards.
    In the statement released Wednesday, Steinhaus let the community know LAPS conducts background searches on each of its new applicants and makes those wishing to work for the district sign a statement authorizing such a check.
    “When a person is hired by LAPS, the standard intake process includes submitting fingerprints through the criminal background check system called 3M Cogent,” Steinhaus said in the release.
    Tuesday, Gov. Susana Martinez ordered compliance investigators with the state’s Public Education Department to conduct immediate reviews of background check policies for each of the state’s 89 public school districts.
    Martinez’s order came on the heels of the discovery that Albuquerque Public Schools’ instruction and technology supervisor, Jason Martinez, had been brought up on child sex abuse and domestic violence charges in the state of Colorado, according to the Associated Press.
    The governor and the accused APS official are not related.

  • Lunch ordering process changes

    Los Alamos Public Schools is changing its ordering and payment process for lunches due to its change of providers.
    For approximately the next two weeks, lunches can be ordered through the website, HotLunch.com. A link to that website can be found at laschools.net.
    For those wishing to order, they should visit the website, make the selections of what days they will have hot lunches and order and pay at the site. For specific menus, click on the “Elementary Lunch Menu” for August 2015 to find out what is being served.
    According to the schools, Southwest Food Excellence is going to have three different entrée choices each day, along with a fruit and vegetable bar.
    Those ordering lunches will not have to preselect specific entrees.
    Prices are $4 per lunch. Those who received reduced-prices lunches last school year have a 30-day grace period until 2015-16 applications are processed.
    Those with questions should call the school’s administration at 663-2223.

  • Students earn summer credits

    For some teenagers, summer means getting a job and earning money, traveling to interesting places; or even sleeping late, relaxing with family and friends, and enjoying a much-needed break from schoolwork.
    For other teenagers, however, summer 2015 was a time to earn essential high school credits for graduation.
    This summer, 80 Los Alamos High School students took part in the LAHS Summer Credit Recovery Program.
    According to LAPS, with the help of the summer teaching staff and technology support, the program recorded a 65 percent increase in the transition rate from 2014.
    The summer LAPS teaching staff included Lorraine Whalen, Kathy Hipwood and Lee Delano, among others.
    The summer curricula included Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, English 9, 10, 11 and 12 and Spanish.
    Each course was a rigorous full-semester online class aligned with state standards.
    A learning coach and three certified teachers were available for customized tutoring sessions and to help answer questions.
    Students also committed a significant amount time outside of regular summer school hours in order to complete their classes.

  • Aspen's principal ready to get started

    Kathryn Vandenkieboom had a pretty good year last year, as students and staff moved into their new building, but she’s hoping this year will be even better.
    “Aspen’s staff is made up of wonderful, truly caring, people,” said Vandenkieboom. “I feel fortunate to work with all of them.”
    There’s at least one new family member on the team, as Jennifer Washnok joins the Aspen Tiger team as a living skills teacher. “We’re very lucky to have Jennifer on our staff, she has a wealth of knowledge about kids with special needs,” she said.
    The living skills classes head to Aspen and the Tiger team is currently interviewing candidates for a new reading intervention teacher. The new position will help both students and teachers to develop the skills it takes to be a strong reader.
    Mrs. Boom, as she is called by the children, wants all families to get involved with the Aspen’s PTO. The group has contributed in large ways like new basketball court surface and markings and reading to kids.
    Vandenkieboom spent this summer in Ocean City, Maryland, with husband, John, but it wasn’t all fun and games — one of her summer activities included scrubbing the grout in her entire house with her toothbrush.

  • Parker moves on to his new assignment

    Bradford Parker graduated from elementary school and went all the way to high school this summer.
    But once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat.
    Parker said he enjoyed everything about last year. If he had to pick one thing, he would have to pick at least two.
    “The Barranca teachers, students and parents were great,” he said. “If I had to pick one of my favorite things it would have to be a tossup between Spirit Weeks, PTO activities and the Bobcat Bonanza,” he said.
    Parker has spent a very busy summer adjusting to a new staff and a slightly larger workload as his staff and number of students multiplies.
    “I have had many exchanges with the high school staff today and I am encouraged by each one,” Parker said. “Our staff is strong both affectively and cognitively. I consider it an honor to serve with these professionals.”
    Parker has also spent some time hiring new staff this summer. He is impressed by the variety of new hires and looks forward to getting to know all of the staff.
    “I am excited about bringing a data analysis processing method to the staff,” said Parker. “This is one contribution I believe I can make to an already impressive school.”

  • LA School Board has meeting Tuesday

    The Los Alamos School Board is scheduled to hear the plan for the 2015-16 school year from Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of its meeting Tuesday.
    The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the administration building’s board room.
    It could be a busy meeting Tuesday with more than a dozen presentations and recommendations slated, according to the board’s agenda.
    Carol Rutten and Janelle Vigil-Maestas of LANL will make an educational plan presentation as part of the meeting. There will also be discussion on a curriculum and assessment report and revisions to the upcoming year’s school calendar, as well as a presentation from Modrall Law Firm and superintendent Kurt Steinhaus about future school construction and executive leadership meetings.
    Also Tuesday, board president Jim Hall will talk about the purpose of closed board sessions in mid-July and on Aug. 6.

  • Info for start of school is now online

    Los Alamos Public Schools has its back-to-school information posted on its website.
    LAPS has posted information on school boundary maps, the yearly school calendar and links to its seven schools on the website, laschools.net.
    School begins in Los Alamos County Thursday. That will be a half-day for elementary schools and full days for Los Alamos Middle School and Los Alamos High School.
    Class lists will be posted at 4 p.m. Monday for middle school students and Wednesday for elementary school students.
    The last day of school for students is scheduled for May 25, 2016. Holidays this year include Labor Day Sept. 7, Columbus Day Oct. 12, Thanksgiving break Nov. 25-27 and winter break starting Dec. 21.
    Also included on the district’s website are bus routes, emergency procedures and information about the schools’ anti-bullying program, as well as information on Common Core standards in both English and Spanish.
    LAPS staff reported to work Thursday in preparation for the upcoming year.

  • Johnson is ready for new position

    This year, Mike Johnson will bring his talents to Los Alamos Middle School, filling the position of principal for the 2015-2016 school year. Johnson ended last year graduating the class of 2015 from Los Alamos High School.
    “As every year, I enjoy seeing our students graduate,” Johnson said. “It is not just a celebration of all the hard work that the student has done to get to that moment, but also a celebration for all the people that have supported them along the way.”
    Johnson is excited to return back to LAMS working with some old and new staff.
    He said he likes the fact the LAMS staff love working with students of that age and seeing them develop into young adults as they pursue their future interests.
    While Johnson may trade one site for another, he will still be working with Los Alamos Early College and Career (LAECCA) program and expands his role to work with a variety of community and parent groups.
    “At the middle school, parents have the opportunity to serve on teams or be part of our site council,” said Johnson. “Parents should feel free to communicate with teachers, counselors and administrators anytime they feel a need to do so.”

  • Chamisa principal excited for year

    Chamisa Cheetah and Principal Debbie Smith said she is excited to see staff returning to school, with wonderful ideas and renewed energy. Over the summer, many of the teachers have attended professional development offerings in science, technology, and more.
    Six of her staff members have spent a portion of their summer on Masters or Ph.D. programs.
    “Our lifelong learners lead by example,” Smith said. “They are bringing ideas in on a daily basis, not waiting for the staff return date of Aug. 6.”
    Smith said she is pleased to welcome new teacher, Ashley Schmiedicke, in first grade, where she has been working as a student teacher and instructional assistant, and new kindergarten teacher, Christine Hunter.
    Last year, Chamisa staff and students did some important things in and around the community.
    One of their highlights was their fourth grade gift of time, entertainment, and artwork to the residents of Sombrillo Nursing Home. The work was made possible through funding from a Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation Grant and a New Mexico Arts Grant.