Based on her professional and academic achievements, Christina Parra, a teacher at Sierra Middle School, has been named a 2018 Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction by the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico (GAFNM). The annual recognition is given to nine finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence.

“Announcing the Golden Apple Award recipients and Teachers of Distinction is the proudest day of the year for us,” says Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico Executive Director Brian O’Connell. “These teachers are inspirational, and we are honored to reward them for their hard work and commitment to educating New Mexico’s children.”

Parra was one of only 16 finalists for the Golden Apple Award and the only finalist from Las Cruces. As part of the recognition, Parra will be honored at the Golden Apple Tribute to Teacher Excellence luncheon Friday, April 6, 2018, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque

The Golden Apple Award recognizes that teaching excellence is the most important in-school factor in students’ academic success, according to a GAFNM news release. The annual award has been presented to outstanding educators from across the state, every year, since 1996.

This year, the program received more than 140 nominations from 27 different cities throughout New Mexico. To be considered for the award, Parra had to first be nominated by a student, parent, colleague, principal, or community member and then complete an application.

All applications were then judged by a committee of past award recipients, members of the GAFNM Board of Directors and other experienced educators.

As a finalist for the award, Parra had to undergo a 90-minute classroom observation by three members of the GAFNM selection committee, who also interviewed Parra’s fellow teachers, principals, parents and students. Once the site visits and interviews were completed, GAFNM selected seven teachers to receive the award.

In 2016, Parra was awarded the LCPS Dr. Sandra K. Nakamura Professional Development Excellence Award for her work mentioning teachers throughout New Mexico. The annual award recognizes LCPS teachers and administrators who deliver or support quality professional development which positively impacts the knowledge and practices of LCPS staff.

According to the GAFNM website, recipients of the Golden Apple Excellence in teaching Award receive a cash prize of $1,500, assorted gifts from New Mexico businesses and $4,000 toward their personalized professional development plan. They are also inducted into the Academy of Fellows and invited to participate in opportunities that advance teaching and learning in perpetuity.

GAFNM was founded in 1994 as a way to improve the quality of education across New Mexico through the recognition, recruitment and professional development of outstanding teachers. The Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Awards program has recognized 123 teachers throughout New Mexico since the program began in 1996.

-LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren, pdahlgren@lcps.net (575) 527-5808