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Mayfield teacher David Morales holds his $1,000 cash award from Firstlight Federal Credit Union after being selected as the LCPS Teacher of the Year. Those with him are (left to right) Dr. Thea Hand, professional development coordinator; Lonna Andrews, 3rd Runner-up, Mesa Middle School; Laura Bryant, 2nd Runner-up, Central Elementary; Rachel Knight, 1st Runner-up, Centennial High; and Supt. Stan Rounds.

LAS CRUCES—David Morales couldn’t believe his ears when Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Stan Rounds announced that he has been selected as the 2015-2016 LCPS Teacher of the Year. The announcement came at the end of a two-hour Celebration of Excellence in Education Awards Dinner, sponsored by the LCPS Foundation, Century Bank and the school district. Morales teaches social studies at Mayfield High School and has been with LCPS since 2005.

As Teacher of the Year, Morales received a $1,000 check from FirstLight Federal Credit Union, said Nyeta Haines, LCPS Foundation executive director. Morales was credited for his level of commitment as a girls’ soccer coach and his mentorship to many students in the ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) program. He is now eligible to compete in the New Mexico Teacher of the Year competition.

Morales was selected from among 45 teacher applications. The finalists in this year’s Teacher of the Year program also were presented cash awards. They were:

• 1st runner-up – Rachel Knight, agriculture teacher from Centennial High School, who received $500 from Jim Hawk, Horace Mann Insurance;

• 2nd runner-up – Laura Bryant, kindergarten teacher from Central Elementary School, who received $325 from former Teacher of the Year Tommy Esparza and the National Education Association of Las Cruces;

• 3rd runner-up – Lonna Andrews, 7th-grade teacher from Mesa Middle School, who received $100 from Asombro Institute for Science Education and Bill Byford, Carter Bain Wealth Management.

The LCPS Bilingual teacher of the Year is Andrew Atencio who teaches 2nd grade at Conlee Elementary. He is joined by (left to right) 2nd Runner-up Noelle Murillo, 5th grade bilingual teacher from Columbia Elementary; 1st Runner-up Francis Wood, 3rd grade dual-language teacher at Highland Elementary; and LCPS Director of Dual-Language and Bilingual Education Mari Rincon.

The LCPS Bilingual teacher of the Year is Andrew Atencio (left) who teaches 2nd grade at Conlee Elementary. He is joined by (left to right) 2nd Runner-up Noelle Murillo from Columbia Elementary; 1st Runner-up Francis Wood from Highland Elementary; and LCPS Director of Dual-Language and Bilingual Education Mari Rincon.

The 2014-15 Bilingual teacher awards were also announced. Mari Rincon, the LCPS Director of Dual Language and Bilingual Education, announced that Andrew Atencio is this year’s LCPS Bilingual Teacher of the Year. Atencio is a 2nd grade teacher from Conlee Elementary and received $250 from Andrea Schoellkopf of Imagine Learning and an anonymous donor.

Selected as 1st runner-up was Francis Wood, 3rd grade dual-language teacher from Highland Elementary School; she received $125 from Superintendent Stan Rounds and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Steven Sanchez. The 2nd runner-up was Noelle Murillo, 5th grade bilingual teacher of Columbia Elementary School; she received $75, also from Rounds and Sanchez.

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Pictured with the National Board certified teachers are Superintendent Stan Rounds (back) and Dr. Thea Hand, Professional Development Coordinator (far right).

The event also honored teachers who have earned a certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the most respected professional certification available in education, said Dr. Thea Hand, coordinator of LCPS professional development.

The teachers are Martha (Erin) Barela, B.T. Washington Elementary; Sheryl Barham, Sonoma Elementary; Emily Gonzales, Arrowhead Park Early College High School; Maura Kochevar, Valley View Elementary; Clara Lopez, Conlee Elementary; Natalie Peterson, César Chávez Elementary; Minerva Sandoval, Hillrise Elementary; and Melissa Selters, Desert Hills Elementary.

Honored were (left to right) Jana Ward, Hillrise; Dusty Dowell, Centennial High; and Dr. Marcy Oxford, Arrowhead Park Medical Academy.

Honored were (left to right) Jana Ward, Hillrise; Dusty Dowell, Centennial High; and Dr. Marcy Oxford, Arrowhead Park Medical Academy.

Awards were also given to three educators who earned this year’s Dr. Sandra K. Nakamura Professional Development Excellence Award. They are teacher Dusty Dowell, of Centennial High School; Dr. Marcy Oxford, coordinator of the LCPS Virtual Learning Academy and the Dean of Students at Arrowhead Park Medical Academy; and Jana Ward, a teacher at Hillrise Elementary.

Nyeta Haines, longtime LCPS educator.

Nyeta Haines, longtime LCPS educator.

Before the event ended, the outgoing members from the Foundation’s Board of Directors were honored for their years of service. They are Gene Gant, Wendy Gallegos and Dr. Earl Phillips.

A final recognition was given to Foundation Executive Director Nyeta Haines who is retiring from that position. She was presented a Nambe gift by Foundation President Bill Connor of El Paso Electric Company.

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—For more information, contact Jo Galvan, Communications Director, 575.527.5811, jgalvan@lcps.k12.nm.us