Little things make a big difference for kids

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Assets in Action

By Bernadette Lauritzen

Welcome to Assets month and our monthly focus on one of the categories of the Search Institutes 40 Developmental Assets©. 

Each year, we start a new school year with a fresh look about the characteristics, traits and experiences that help our young people become competent adults. The little things make a big difference in the lives of young people. 

One of the reasons I love the Assets is that it doesn’t take a huge time commitment, no meetings and you don’t need permission or funding, just dig in and get to it. 

As Dr. Peter Benson would say, “If you’re breathing, you’re on the team.” I sat behind him once at a conference and later passed him in the hallway. I couldn’t muster the huztzpah to speak to him, but I felt, “my calling,” if you will that this was what I was supposed to be doing. 

I don’t work for the Monitor and don’t write for money. I write because of the Assets, the relationships and the opportunity to spotlight youth in and around our community.

September’s Asset of the month is the category called, “Commitment to Learning.” Today I wanted my focus to be on those others that don’t do it for the money, school staff.

Many of the most wonderful people I know, are teachers and also friends. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to mention them, but I want to share some of the history related to a few members of our school family.

At the elementary level, I know Kay Swadener of Barranca Mesa Elementary has been in education for 15 years, Kristi Carr, who started out as an instructional zssistant and worked her way to the art room, has been in the game for 21. 

As we draw music into the fold, I hear that music teacher, Kim Letellier has been there for 18 and to this day has the best hair from the back that I have ever seen. You see, we mostly get to see the music teachers from behind.

The LAMS Hawks have some pretty stellar performers, although the numbers aren’t all on my list. Coaches Sue Hammock and Daren Jones have been there, we’ll just say a long time.  

Two of my Asset Award winning teachers, you can nominate one anytime, are LAHS’ Judy Nekimken and LAMS’ Rita Sanchez.

Nekimken demonstrates true friendship to students, a commitment to health and healthy choices and loves to do fun things that make youth happy. There is fun in learning and yes, even in math, and Judy has been doing it for 33 years.

Finally, the always engaging Senora Sanchez, la maestra de Español. Rita has been there a stunning 33 years and I think looks younger every year. She has been beloved by children for years after they leave the Hawks halls and she stays involved like no other I have ever known.


If you would like to nominate a school employee for a Community Assets Award or have a copy of the 40 Development Assets, just drop Champions of Youth Ambitions an email at cya-nm.org.