• LAHS claims gold-medal status

     Los Alamos High School reached gold medal status after being ranked 500th in the “Best High Schools in America,” out of 19,411 schools, according to U.S. News and World Report.
    Achieving gold medal ranking also qualified Los Alamos High School for status as a 2014 STEM “Best High Schools.” To determine the top STEM (science, technology, engineering and math schools), U.S. News and World Report looked at the top 500 public schools in the nation and then evaluated their students’ participation and success in Advanced Placement science and math test.
    Los Alamos High School was ranked 189th out of 250 high schools. STEM rankings methodology is based on the key principle that students at “Best High Schools” for STEM must participate in and pass a robust curriculum of college math and science courses. Data for this ranking was taken from the 2012 graduates.
    School Board President, Judy Bjarke McKenzie said, “this ranking serves as proof that all schools in the district are headed in the right direction.”

  • Luján checks out STEM at UNM-LA

    Rep. Ben Ray Lujãn (D-N.M.) visited the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos recently, anxious to learn more about the programs there and how he can help further the university’s immersion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programming.
    Lujãn has publicly stated his support of STEM programming, not only as a means to stabilize New Mexico’s economy, but also as means of economic mobility for New Mexico’s high school and college-aged students.
    Accompanying him on his tour of the campus were UNM-LA’s Executive Director Dr. Cedric Page, Dean of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Cindy J. Rooney, Carole G. Rutten, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Institutional Program Manager for Education in the Community Programs Office and others.
    One goal Lujan hoped to achieve by his visit was to drive home the importance of STEM-based programming to his counterparts in Washington as well as the importance of branch campuses in general.

  • Schmidt's contract OKd

    The Los Alamos School Board officially approved Tuesday Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt’s contract during a regular school board meeting yesterday, giving him a three percent raise in salary.
    Starting July 1, Schmidt’s salary will be $149,185.20, an increase from his current salary of $144,840.00.
    According to Human Resources Manager and Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn, Schmidt will also have the same benefits package as the other employees of the school district, which include 20 days of leave.
    The contract is for one year, starting July 1 and ending June 30, 2015.
    It’s expected that at the end of this contract, Schmidt will step down and the board will already have a successor lined up.
    According to the Los Alamos School Board’s president, Judy Bjarke McKenzie, the board has already begun the search process of looking for Schmidt’s replacement, saying they are already in the process of forming a search committee.
    About a month and a half ago, it seemed liked this year would be Schmidt’s last with the Los Alamos Public Schools, as Schmidt and the board seemed to have had a falling out over key issues.

  • Nelms to step down as LAHS athletic director

    Los Alamos High School athletic director Vicki Nelms has stepped down from her post to accept another post, according to a report this morning.
    Nelms, who has been with LAHS since 2007, is accepting a job in Oregon with a school district near Portland. Nelms, who came to Los Alamos from Vanderbilt, Texas, will move on to take over the athletic department in Clackamas, Ore.
    According to Nelms’ Facebook page, she will be moving to Oregon in mid June.
    Clackamas High School, located about approximately 12 miles from Portland, consists of 2,300 students, more than twice the current population of Los Alamos High School.
    Nelms is a veteran coach and administrator, having nearly 35 years of experience at both the prep and collegiate levels. She took over the department from Robert Abney in the summer of 2007.
    Since joining Los Alamos, Nelms’ department has been a busy one. Los Alamos has gone through coaching changes in nearly every sport, including three so far in 2014.
    Also along the way, Nelms was involved with the removal of the natural field surface at Sullivan Field, which was replaced with artificial surface in the summer of 2011, and a redesign of the façade at Griffith Gymnasium.

  • Nominations sought for Golden Apple Award

    Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico is accepting nominations for the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2015.
    Nominations are due online or at the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico offices (PO Box 40469, Albuquerque, N.M. 87196) by April 30.
    Teachers will be selected first and foremost on the basis of the quality of their teaching. Teachers receiving the award will also demonstrate a commitment to the profession of teaching and to their own professional growth as well as that of their colleagues.
    Nominated teachers will complete a comprehensive application describing their teaching methods, professional development experiences, community volunteerism, and other aspects of their teaching philosophy. Applications are read and scored first by teachers who have won the Award in past years and then by a selection committee composed of active and retired educators.
    In the final stage of the selection process, a three-member team of the selection committee will conduct a full-day site visit at each finalist’s school. The team will observe the teacher in the classroom and interview the principal, other teachers, parents, students, and the finalist.

  • Making progress at Aspen

    It was a cold Thursday morning with a little snow as construction workers with Jayne’s Construction stack steel girders as they prepare to do more work on Aspen Elementary School.

  • UNM-LA tightens belt

    The advisory board for the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos campus as well as the school’s administration recently took a hard look at the school’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015,
    Though the UNM-LA proposed budget for 2015 is a little leaner than the current year’s budget, it won’t be meaner, in that the school’s administration has managed to preserve all of the classes and services students will need to complete their degree programs.
    “We have no plans to discontinue any degree or certificate programs we currently have listed in our roster.” Campus Director Dr. Cedric Page said. He also added that the school is currently pursuing grants that will help aid student performance, and that they will be trying new strategies to increase the enrollment numbers for next year.
    UNM-LA’s approved budget last year was $5.9 million; this year’s proposed budget is $5.5 million. Though the advisory board put its stamp of approval on it Monday, it still has to go before the University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents for final approval sometime in the next 10 to 15 days.

  • New LAHS principal hired

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt announced Tuesday that Dr. Deborah Belew-Nyquist will be the next principal of Los Alamos High School.
    “...During my one-on-one interview, I perceived a strong research-based educator who brings a student-focused to learning,” said Schmidt in a press release. “It is my belief that as the next Hilltopper administrator, Dr. Belew-Nyquist will continue to build on the educational excellence of the school and serve effectively with vision, compassion and professionalism.”
    As of last week, the candidates came down to Belew-Nyquist, who is from the state of Washington and Michael Johnson, the high school’s assistant principal.
    During an interview session that included school officials, the general public and high school students, many were impressed with Belew-Nyquist’s vision of what public education should be about.
    “The question is ‘what’s my vision.’ Well, when I’m working in schools, it’s not what my vision is, it’s what our vision is,” she said last week. “I truly believe that educating our children is a shared responsibility of parents, staff, students and the community.”

  • LA to benefit from Torres’ travel

    Though Teacher of the Year Carolyn Torres will be traveling the states as part of her new status this year, it will be the community of Los Alamos that stands to benefit the most.
    She’s already been out to Arizona, where she’s met the other teachers of the year from the other states during a weeklong conference in January. She described it as a prep course for what to expect on her tour, as well as a way to get acquainted with her fellow teachers.
    “We did our introductions, practiced our speeches and learned what will be expected of us,” Torres said.
    The Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored, in part, by The New Mexico Public Education Department and TEACHNM, an organization that offers teachers career guidance.
    The score is partly based on a description of how and what they teach and how they apply Common Core techniques. Her tour is being sponsored in part by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
    Of course, Los Alamos has been helping her get ready for her tour as well. Earlier this month, Beaver Toyota stepped forward with a leased, 2014 Toyota Corolla to help her get around within the state, and countless businesses including C.B. Fox, Smith’s and others helping her with her wardrobe and travel expenses.

  • Top teacher hits road

    New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year, Carolyn Torres, will be doing quite a bit of traveling this year as part of her new title. Find out more in the Los Alamos Monitor Sunday.