• Teacher evaluation bill makes return

    A bill concerning teacher evaluation that was vetoed by the governor last year has come back again.
    Sponsored by Sen. Howie Morales, the bill allows for school officials to negotiate certain parts of the process, such as the student evaluation part of the bill. The bill calls for limiting that part to 20 percent of the total evaluation. The bill also calls for the process to be more confidential, and for more teacher and district support.
    Last year, the New Mexico Senate passed the bill 21 to 18. Sen. Richard Martinez voted for the bill while Sen. Carlos Cisneros was excused. In the house, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard voted in favor of the bill as well.
    Through a written statement, Morales said he decided to resurrect the the bill for a few important reasons.
    “SB 588 is important to New Mexico’s public education system because educators deserve to be evaluated by those who know that system inside and out,” Morales said. “Creating a sound and reasonable way to evaluate these respected professionals will not only keep good educators in New Mexico public schools, but will assure that our students have the best educators preparing them to be productive citizens in the global economy.”

  • LA students capture Science Bowl

    U. S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced on Monday that a team of students from Los Alamos High School will join other teams from around the nation at the 2014 National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C.
    “The National Science Bowl challenges students to excel and heightens their interest in fields vital to America’s continued scientific advancement,” Moniz said. “Congratulations to these students for advancing to the National Finals. I wish them the best of luck.”
    Los Alamos, coached by LAHS chemistry teacher Kathy Boerigter, was very excited for her team. She said, “The team was amazing. They studied like crazy and practiced for weeks.” She added, “And wouldn’t you know it. They had to beat their arch rival Albuquerque Academy to advance to nationals.”
    Members of the team included Katherine Wang, Wilbur Wang, Alex Swart, Willie Zhao and Alex Wang.
    Science Bowl teams compete in a series of head-to-head competitions against other school districts in the region. Teams are questioned in a rapid recall format about earth, space, energy, physics, chemistry, biology and math.

  • N.M. schools get federal funding

    ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico has been selected to receive a $3.7 million federal grant to help school districts turn around persistently low- achieving schools.
    The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s School Improvement Grant Program. It was announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.
    The New Mexico Democrat says recent studies about the well-being of children show New Mexico ranks at the bottom in several categories, and turning around schools is an important step toward providing kids with a brighter future.

  • Science Fair Leaves Nothing Unturned

    The laws of science, biology, technology and engineering were on full display at the Los Alamos County Science Fair Saturday, as students proudly stood by their projects, eagerly answering any question the judges as well as the public had for them.
    There were 275 projects on display, all diverse and interesting.
    Want to know how sunlight is converted into electricity? How our immune system can do a better job at fighting cancer? What’s the best conductor of electricity? If you walked the halls of Los Alamos High School Saturday, you’d know the answers to these questions, and more.
    If you stopped by sixth grade Pinon Elementary student Sasha Dolin’s exhibit, you’d also definitely find out at what temperature chocolate begins to melt.
    “My mom makes chocolates all the time, and I kept thinking what I was going to be doing for my project,” she said.
    So she put the question to her mother one day, and a pretty fascinating, if not delicious, science project was born. Turns out, no one knew exactly, so Dolin mapped out an experiment that involved charts and graphs detailing exactly what’s happening when a solid starts to transform itself into a liquid by way of heat.

  • Gov announces grant for LAHS 2.0 program

    New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced that Los Alamos will receive a $100,000 Early College in the High School grant that enables Los Alamos High School students to work on college degrees even as students earn their high school diploma.
    In partnership with the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, LAHS will forge alliances with northern New Mexico businesses, industries, and universities to provide Los Alamos High School 2.0.
    “Early college high school programs are a critical part of our education reform to ensure that every New Mexico student is prepared to enter the workforce or college,” Martinez said in announcing the program.
    LAHS 2.0’s aims are to personalize learning pathways for students, open college doors to historically underserved students and position graduates to be the first choice for hire when entering the job market or seeking acceptance to a university.
    Dr. Cynthia Rooney, UNM-LA Dean of Instruction, congratulated LAPS.
    “We look forward to partnering with the school district on this initiative,” Rooney said.
    LAHS 2.0 is designed to generate a new pool of college and skilled career graduates with associate’s degrees, which proponents believe stands to benefit the entire state of New Mexico.

  • LAHS' Warnock is stepping down

    Los Alamos High School principal Sandra Warnock announced her intent to retire at the end of the school year during a Wednesday meeting with her staff.
    Shortly after the meeting, School Board President Jim Hall stated, “I am grateful for Ms. Warnock’s long service to the district. I will personally miss working with her.”
    Warnock is completing a 30-year career with Los Alamos Public Schools that began in 1984 as a special education teacher at the high school.
    Warnock served in that capacity for 22 years before accepting a position as an assistant principal at the high school. Warnock served as high school principal for the past four and a half years.
    Warnock said there were many aspects she loved about being principal, but it was the people she worked with she loved about it the most.
    “It was the people part of the job that I liked the most, as well the challenge of trying to make things better in the area of student achievement,” she said.
    Sherry Anderson, Math department chair, said “I think that Sandy has been a great principal. She has always tried to do what is best for the students and staff while being fair to everyone.”

  • Applications being taken for Russia trip

    The Los Alamos-Sarov Sister Cities Initiative (LASSCI) is seeking applications from High School students interested in a summer 2014 visit to Sarov, Russia.
    An information session for interested students and parents will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 1. at the Mesa Public Library (3rd Floor, Rooms 2 and 3). Attendees will learn everything they need to know to consider participating in the summer 2014 trip.
    The purpose of the Summer Youth Exchange Program is to promote mutual understanding between our two cities and between our respective countries. Participating students will develop appreciation for both the similarities and differences of life in both communities, and learn about the history, the culture and everyday life.
    Visits under the Summer Youth Exchange Program involve 10 students accompanied by chaperones, and start with two days in Moscow for sightseeing and time-zone adjustment.
    The group then travels to the ‘secret’ city of Sarov.
    The program will include learning about the history of the town, touring attractions in the surrounding area, music and other cultural events, trying out new food, and meeting and just kicking back with Sarov students.
    Visitors will discover new things about themselves, form lasting friendships and, as previous participants have attested, have life-changing experiences.

  • AFT maps out its vision as state legislature looms

    SANTA FE — It was an afternoon of fiery speeches and goal setting Monday as the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico held a press conference in the rotunda of the capitol, putting legislators on notice they wanted changes in how the state manages public education.
    Those attending from Los Alamos included a group of retired teachers and current teachers, including Ryan Ross, Karyl Ann Armbruster, Jane Young, Shelby Redondo and Ellen Mills, who is also the president of AFT affiliate the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees.
    Speakers at the event included the National Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Vice President Kathy Chavez, AFT NM President Stephanie Ly, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, State Sen. Jacob Candelaria, (D-Bernalillo), New Mexico’s first Poet Laureate Hakim Bellamy and others.
    In this legislative session, AFT NM hopes to accomplish several goals, including getting the New Mexico Public Education Department to be more receptive to public input, supply more funding to critical programs, let teachers have more say in their evaluations and not rely so much on testing as a barometer of teacher performance and student learning.

  • 'Keep the Promise' keeps at it

    Participants in the “Keep the Promise Bus Tour” met up at the National Education Association offices in Santa Fe Monday to assess how it went, and what impact it had on their mission to reform some key policies concerning student testing, wage structure, teacher evaluation as well as other issues.
    Leading the discussion was the president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, Stephanie Ly. Other participants included Ellen Mills, president of the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees; Karyl Ann Armbruster, a retired teacher from Los Alamos; Isidoro Herrera, also of AFT NM; Charles Goodmacher, UniServ Director, Government Relations, National Education Association, New Mexico; Jared Ames of Working America and Ian Esquibel, executive director of Learning Alliance.
    “Keep the Promise For New Mexico’s future” calls itself a group of “concerned citizens, businesses and organizations who are committed to ensuring a quality education from birth to career for our children, students and our future,” according to a statement on their website.
    The bus tour was to gather input from citizens across New Mexico as to what they wanted to see changed or improved when it came to New Mexico’s public education system.

  • School officials meet with PED

    A meeting between school officials and officials from the New Mexico Public Education Department apparently went well, according to those who attended the meeting.
    Los Alamos school officials that attended the meeting included Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Pamela Miller, School Board President Jim Hall, and School Board Vice President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie.
    The meeting took place in early January. School officials requested the meeting, The purpose was to gain concessions from the NMPED regarding the state’s teacher evaluation process and the state’s version of the end-of-course exams.
    According to Hall, the district accomplished three goals at the meeting.
    “We received a lot more clarification on where they are more flexible,” Hall said, adding that his impression was the PED itself has become more flexible because of all the feedback from Los Alamos and other districts about the issue. Another reason he said was the PED has found it just doesn’t have the staff to accomplish all it set out to do.