• Gov. visits Aspen students

    As the governor says, “You can’t win if you don’t read.”
    Gov. Susana Martinez showed up at Aspen Elementary School Friday to tout the state’s summer reading program the “2015 New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge.”
    New Mexico children ages 5-12 are eligible to participate, from any type of schooling situation, whether that’s public, private, charter or home school.
    Participants in the contest must read 12 books by July 31 as well a write an essay about “Why I Love New Mexico.”
    Students then need to submit their lists. Students with the best essays are eligible for top prizes, which are pretty sweet. Those prizes include a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a family fun day at the New Mexico State Fair or a balloon ride with Martinez and First Gentleman Franco.
    For more information, log onto readingchallenge.ped.state.nm.us.
    Martinez arrived at the school a little past noon Friday and met up with Aspen Elementary School’s principal, Kathryn Vandenkieboom and students playing outside at recess, where she took “selfies” with the students and talked with them about what they were doing in school.

  • Washburn heads to new job in Oregon

    It could be said Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn is Los Alamos.
    He, along with his wife Audrey, raised a family here and ran a small business here. Gerry also worked in the commercial real estate and loans department at the Los Alamos Bank, was the late night shift supervisor at the Los Alamos Detention Center, taught and coached middle school and high school basketball, was a teacher and a principal at Mountain Elementary School, and then became the assistant superintendent and human resources director at Los Alamos Public Schools.
    Audrey became the district’s transportation coordinator.
    Thursday, just days before the Washburns are set to leave for Oregon, members of the community and the district came out to Mountain Elementary School to thank the Washburns for all they’ve done for Los Alamos and its children.
    After more than 30 years of being a part of the community, the Washburns will be leaving for Roseburg, Oregon, where Gerry will start work June 6 as the superintendent of schools.
    Recently, Washburn sat down and talked with the Los Alamos Monitor about where he’s been and where he’s going.

  • Johnson to be new LAMS principal

    New Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Kurt Steinhaus announced today that Mike Johnson will take over the principal duties at Los Alamos Middle School.
    Johnson has been the assistant principal at Los Alamos High School. He will take over the position at the middle school following the resignation of Rex Kilburn.
    More information will appear soon in the Los Alamos Monitor.

  • Report: Schools' strategy unclear on dealing with teen pregnacy

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico has no clear strategy on how to keep decreasing what is currently the second-highest rate of teens giving birth nationwide, according to a legislative report out this week.
    The Legislative Finance Committee report said inconsistent implementation of comprehensive standards for sex education may be a contributing factor. Public schools are required to instruct students on various ways to prevent pregnancy, but not all of them do, the findings stated.
    Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, serves on the Legislature's appropriations committee and plays a role in funding state agencies that address teen pregnancy.
    "Year after year, we fund agencies, and it's supposed to be needs-based. But we don't always ask what success looks like," Lundstrom told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
    It appears that even in counties with sold school-based health clinic programs, teen pregnancy seems to occur at a higher rate, Lundstrom said. Some clinic programs offer health screenings and treatment but not contraception, according to health officials.
    "Obviously they're not getting enough support, including referral support," Lundstrom said. "If a school-based program had additional support for referrals to other agencies, I think they'd be much more successful."

  • Classes finishing up at LAPS

    Los Alamos Public Schools announced a revised dismissal schedule for the final week of the 2014-15 academic year.
    Students from Los Alamos Middle School will have no classes on May 29, the final day of the year. Students from Los Alamos High School will be released at 10:50 a.m. and elementary school students will be released at noon.
    LAPS said all schools will dismiss at the regular time May 26. On May 27, LAMS and LAHS will be released at the regular time, but elementary schools will have a noon release time.
    May 28 will be the final day of school at LAMS. Those students will be dismissed at 11:30 a.m.
    Elementary schools will be dismissed at noon May 28, while the high school will have regular release time.
    Graduation for LAHS seniors will be May 30.

  • Chamisa hosts its annual Wax Museum

    Students from Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock were busy this semester learning about historical figures, both from New Mexico and around the world.
    The middle team at Chamisa — third and fourth graders — were asked to research a prominent person from the past so well that they could imitate them.
    And that’s exactly what they did at the school’s annual Wax Museum earlier this month. Chamisa principal Debbie Smith said students in third grade were asked to look at the lives of anyone they wished who have had an impact on history, while fourth graders looked into figures from New Mexico. Fourth graders also built cubes with information on their figures.
    But the highlight of the project is the wax museum. Visitors from the community came into the school and put in tickets to bring the students — who dressed as their subjects — to life, reciting the facts about their figure’s life.

  • Steinhaus outlines 90-day plan

    Kurt Steinhaus, is wasting no time in getting acclimated to his new job.
    According his 90-Day Transition Plan he released earlier this week, it’s full steam ahead, with an emphasis on helping students achieve their best and building community relationships.
    Steinhaus is the new superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, taking over the job earlier this month for Gene Schmidt, who left after six years at the helm of the school district.
    By the time the next school year comes around, Steinhaus hopes to check off most, if not all the major goals of his plan, which include:

    • Creating a multimedia communication plan for better interaction with the community
    • Collaboration with Los Alamos County on its new “Los Alamos is a great place to work and raise a family” campaign
    • Alumni engagement
    • Successfully gaining approval from the New Mexico Public Education Department on the district’s customized version of the teacher evaluation process and testing

  • LAPS plan to help students catch up

    Los Alamos Public Schools has dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on a policy it hopes clarify thing for high school graduates who are falling between the cracks when it comes to graduation requirements.
    For students who did not make the grade on the Standards Based Assessment exams (SBA) or the new testing standard, the Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers (PARCC), the school district has had an alternative means for those students to demonstrate competency.
    The problem was, up until now, the board did not have a clear policy stating those pathways. But now they do.
    According to school officials, the Los Alamos School Board may approve the new policy next week at its regularly scheduled meeting.
    The LASB recently took up the policy rewrite in April, an initially approved a first reading of the policy.
    “I think you could communicate to the high school staff… that this is highly probable and approved by the board,” said LASB President Jim Hall to administration officials at the April meeting about the chances of the policy being approved when the board meets again.

  • LAHS rated one of the top N.M. schools

    U.S. News and World Report recently released their ratings for the top schools in the United States and Los Alamos High School takes a gold medal. LAHS took the number three spot for the state of New Mexico behind the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science and South Valley Academy.
    “The performance of our AP students and the high quality program that our AP teachers provides a visual comparison,” said Dr. Gene Schmidt, Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent. “A comparison that highlights performances higher than the national average as compared with students from around the nation.”
    One thing that adds to the success of LAHS in their ratings is the number of Advanced Placement or AP classes and how well students due in the course.
    “AP classes, in general, have a much faster pace than other classes, have students who are more motivated to dive into a subject or master it prior to leaving the high school,” said AP math teacher, Judy Nekimken. “Those classes have students who generally are pretty good at thinking analytically and my students are measured against many thousands of others who are taught the same demanding curriculum at the end of the course.”

  • LAPS says goodbye to Schmidt

    Friends and colleagues gathered at Fuller Lodge Tuesday to say goodbye and best wishes to Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt.
    Schmidt is leaving Los Alamos to be a superintendent of Farmington Public Schools.
    The president of the Los Alamos School Board, Jim Hall, publicly congratulated Schmidt on maintaining the Los Alamos Public School district’s rating as the best school district in Los Alamos and for shepherding a number of improvements to the district, including overseeing the construction of three schools and implementing academic and professional programs for students as well as teachers.
    “All of those schools came in on budget and on time. We gained significant national recognition for the quality of our schools. “We hired a lot of good teachers, principals and staff, and we helped them all grow. For example, we established a master’s program — we have 39 teachers getting their master’s — it makes a great difference in the growth, the quality and the capability of our staff,” said Hall to the audience.
    Many of Schmidt’s colleagues, including Hall, remarked how seriously Schmidt took being the public face, as well as an ambassador of Los Alamos Public Schools to the community.