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Education

  • Teacher suing district lost previous complaint

    A judgment made earlier this year by the New Mexico Human Rights Division of the State of New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions could affect the outcome of a pending lawsuit filed against the Los Alamos Public School District by a school employee.

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by Mountain Elementary teacher Zeynep Unal, alleges she was forced out of her teaching position at Aspen Elementary through the use of trumped up disciplinary actions allegedly used to intimidate, harass and discriminate against her.

    “Defendants unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff through their repeated and continued harassment of her,” a statement in the lawsuit read. “The repeated and continuous harassment included unfounded disciplinary actions, an attempted improper termination and other adverse actions and unequal terms and conditions of employment.

    The Defendants engaged in this repeated and continuous harassment because of the plaintiff’s national origin in violation of her rights under federal and state law.”

    Unal is from Turkey. The lawsuit was filed April 18. Besides the Los Alamos School District, Unal also named Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt and Aspen Elementary School principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom as defendants.

  • New Rotary group raises funds to benefit local fourth graders

    A newly-formed satellite group of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos called STARS (Service to All Rotary Satellite) will host a fundraising event from 4-7 p.m. Sunday June 2 at the Dixie Girl Restaurant.
    The theme of the event is “Are You Smarter than a 4th Grader?” and all members of the community are invited to join. The evening’s events will include a trivia quiz competition for all ages, as well as an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet with salad, drinks and dessert.
    Funds raised at the event will benefit a program to provide four weeks of swim lessons to all 4th graders in the Los Alamos school district, a program that was eliminated several years ago due to budget cuts.
    Tony Hinojosa, Physical Education instructor at Mountain School, has been advocating to reinstate the program. He started by appealing to the Mountain School PTA to fund the lessons for its own 4th graders.
    This year, all Mountain 4th graders were given swim lessons at the Aquatic Center. In a similar program funded by the Mountain PTA, Hinojosa took 5th graders to Pajarito Mountain for ski and snowboard lessons.

  • Glow Run fun

    Participants begin the race and run past Chamisa Cheetah, Chamisa Elementary School mascot. The first Glow Run was on Saturday in White Rock. The fun included the sale of glow lights, popcorn and homemade fudge to boost the bottom line. 100 participants were registered for the run which raised approximately $1,100 in the hopes of adding a paved track to the campus in the future. 

  • School board tackles construction concerns

    While everyone else is thinking thoughts of summer vacation this time of year, the thoughts of the Los Alamos Board of Education have already moved on to the next school year.

    Specifically, Aug 14, the day most students go back to school.

    The board’s session was to address concerns surrounding the final construction phases at the middle school and the beginning phases of construction at Aspen Elementary.

    The chief concern among board members was making sure both middle school students and elementary students had a place to go when their schools open next year. That involved a lengthy discussion on the dilemma of moving the campus of portable classrooms that the middle school students have called home for the last two years to see service at Aspen.

    Move them too soon, when construction at the middle school isn’t completed, middle school students won’t have a place to go in August. Move them too late, neither will the Aspen Elementary students.

  • 'Summer school' not what it used to be

    Here’s a sentence describing one of the classes in “The Summer Program for Younger Students,” a special curriculum created by the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    “Launch a rocket on the last day of class.”

    They’re talking about model rockets, but still, who wouldn’t want to sign up for that? Other courses in the program promise that students will get to learn about fire, fossils, robots, how to solve real life mysteries, program a computer, even train a dog.

    It’s these types of learning experiences that have kept the youth of Los Alamos coming back to the “Summer Program for Younger Students” for the past 20 years.

  • District fetes retirees

    Colleagues and family saw a number of their peers off to retirement last Thursday, as the Los Alamos Public School District hosted a retirement party for 17 employees at Fuller Lodge.

    They included David Buckland, high school teacher; Paula Dean, assistant superintendent, Mary Jo Fischer, middle school teacher; Ernestina Garcia, instructional assistant at Aspen Elementary; Mary Kathleen Kelly, teacher at Chamisa Elementary; Elizabeth Kulka, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Loree Lynch, secretary; Marie D. Martinez, teacher at the middle school; Maxine Marrufo, custodian; Ruth McNiff, teacher at Barranca Elementary; Debbie O’Dean, a counselor at Aspen Elementary; Mary Plotner, teacher at Mountain Elementary, Ann Revelle, records specialist with student services; Carol Schoenberg, teacher at the high school; Margaret Sheridan, teacher at Aspen Elementary, Linda Valenti, social worker with student services and Barbara Wrobleski-Mullis, teacher at the middle school.

    “If I could add up the number of years and then quadruple it, that would probably be the number of students this group has impacted through the years,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said at the retirement ceremony.

    In one of her last speeches as assistant superintendent, Dean gave a big thank you to the audience.

  • UNM-LA celebrates graduation

    There was a real feeling of emotion, optimism and hope in the air.

    Soon-to-be holders of doctorate degrees, master degrees, bachelors degrees, associate degrees and general education development diplomas from UNM-LA met up with each other at the Crossroads Bible Church for their graduation ceremony Wednesday evening.

    They were congratulating each other like old friends on their academic accomplishments before the ceremony began.

    Within two hours, UNM-LA’s 32nd annual graduation ceremony would be over and 78 degree holders would be going off into the world to either build on what they’ve accomplished by enrolling in another degree program or finding a job.

    Dr. Cedric Page, UNM-LA’s executive director, started the ceremony off by welcoming the graduates, their family and friends to the occasion as well as the event’s special guests, faculty and speakers, including convocation speaker Kathy Keith.

    Keith, whose professional specialty is economic development, is the executive director of the Regional Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that promotes jobs in Northern New Mexico. It also partners with UNM-LA to help students find jobs through the organization’s “Accelerate” Program.

  • Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers named NMSU president

    LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Former Republican Gov. Garrey Carruthers has been named New Mexico State University's new president.

    The NMSU Board of Regents voted Monday 3-2 in favor of Carruthers to lead the state's second-largest four-year university.

    Carruthers has been dean of NMSU's College of Business since 2003. He was governor from 1987 to 1990.

    Other finalists were former Texas Tech University president Guy Bailey, former University of Nevada, Las Vegas president David Ashley, former Texas A&M University president Elsa Murano and University of Colorado Denver Dean Daniel Howard.

    Barbara Couture resigned as NMSU president last fall without explanation after fewer than three years in the job. Former University of Missouri system president Manuel Pacheco has been serving as interim president.

    NMSU's main campus has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students.

  • Los Alamos schools climb in national ranking

    Los Alamos High School made a significant leap in a national poll recently when it was revealed the school went up more than 80 spots in U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best High Schools’ rankings list.

    In 2012, the school was ranked 638. In this year’s poll, the school is at 556, advancing 82 places since last year’s poll.

    The poll, with help from the American Institutes for Research, analyzed three main factors in 21,035 U.S. high schools.

    The first factor examined whether the school’s students were performing better in reading and math than average for students in their state.

    Then they factored in the school’s percentage of “economically-disadvantaged” students, and whether or not they were performing at a better-than-average rate.

    For schools that passed those two tests, the schools were then judged on how many “advanced placement” (college level) courses it provides, the variety of courses, how many students in the school are signing up for them and how many are getting a passing grade.

    It’s this factor that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said was a determining factor in the school’s advancement in the rankings this year.

  • College to christen renovated library

    Northern New Mexico College will celebrate the grand opening and dedication of its newly renovated Ben Luján Library Thursday.
    The public celebration kicks off at 9:45 a.m. with tours of the library and a presentation of Oliver Greer’s Extraordinary Bug Exhibit. The college’s Digital Media department will also be hosting Bug Movies, a workshop where visitors can star in mini films in Northern’s television station studio.
    The formal dedication ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a welcome by Northern President Nancy “Rusty” Barceló. The late Speaker Luján’s family, including his son, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, will be present to acknowledge the support and resources that the late Speaker brought to the institution and northern New Mexico.
    The renovations added 7,000 square feet to the library, doubling the size of the original facility. The space includes a new computer lab, study pods, and student meeting rooms.
    Following the dedication, the college will host a luncheon in the Connie Valdez quad, just north of the Luján library.