For a quarter century, the Albuquerque Public Schools Educational Foundation has provided grants for innovative and collaborative teaching, learning, and student support. More than $8 million has been donated to classrooms, schools and departments to help pay for everything from equipment and supplies to field trips and training. A few months ago, the Foundation awarded an additional $200,000 to 30 programs and projects that support science and technology, fine arts, literacy, social and emotional learning, and student clubs and activities. .
A perusal of the list of recipients gives you just a glimpse of the phenomenal teaching that takes place every day in our classrooms and schools across the district. This pandemic may have overfilled our plates, but it has not diminished our enthusiasm for education, our passion for the children we serve, or our determination to make a difference.
APS students learn everything from computer coding and robotics, to digital theater design and jewelry making, to games and 3D printing. They dance, shoot arrows (in archery lessons), explore their environment, study their cultures, work together, solve problems, develop leadership skills.
For example, at Roosevelt Middle School, teacher Robyn Clarke received support for a student-led music production that will allow students to “exhibit creativity, ingenuity, and be challenged to work collaboratively toward the end goal”.
At Wilson Middle School, Susan Schipull’s Gardening Elective classes work with the Intensive Global Support Services class to grow plants in traditional and hydroponic/aquaponic growing systems. They are also creating a community seed library, creating a cookbook, and using digital and media arts to tell the story of the garden.
A lot of teachers are taking the learning outside these days. Like Jordan Orlovsky, a teacher at eCADEMY High School, who used scholarship money to take his students on hikes, allowing them to explore the concepts they studied online as well as escape the isolation, meet friends and build relationships.
Our grant recipients represent a tiny fraction of our creative, supportive and dedicated workforce. Lately I have unfortunately spent a lot of time putting out the fires started mainly by COVID and cyber attack. But when I go out to the schools, I am impressed by what I witness and it reminds me why I am doing this job. It’s an honor, truly, to work with such caring people.
Not too long ago, staff representing the Legislative Finance Committee visited many of our schools to learn more about how we educate and support students. We have published stories on our website about several of these visits. Stories were overlooked among all the information we had to share with staff and families. I wanted to share them here today so you can appreciate some of the great work going on:
- Harrison Middle School’s AVID About Learning: Program develops leadership skills that will help students in high school, later in college, and hopefully in life.
- College-bound, career-ready Manzano culture: The high school offers innovative programs, internships, resources, and even a “human library.”
- Westside Elementary School is a model of inclusivity: SR Marmon combines general education, Indian education, special education, dual language, English language development, enrichment and gifted programs.
- Arts integration puts “art” in “smarts”: the goal of schools like the Janet Kahn Integrated Arts School is to help children stand up for themselves, think for themselves and to question.
- AHA electives include Navajo language and culture: The Atrisco Heritage Academy’s unique classroom includes field trips, mock trials, art exhibits, cooking and dining, performances, and a recent fashion show.
- Genius Hour is a Recipe for Success: Los Padillas Elementary School is one of many APS elementary schools that incorporate extra time into the school day for electives.
- Teachers at Whittier receive daily professional training: Educators at Transformation Elementary School meet daily to share success stories and challenges and receive in-depth training and guidance.
The Foundation will begin accepting applications for its next round of grants next week. Look for more information on their website: APS Education Foundation Grants and Scholarships.
Even if you are not applying for a grant or have not published a story about your school on the website or in the local news, I know you are doing a good job. You don’t have to be in the spotlight to shine. I appreciate you and everything you do.