Based on her ability to consistently incorporate agricultural education into her teaching curriculum, East Picacho Elementary School Teacher Julie Janecka was awarded the 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year award by the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau’s New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom Program (NMAITC). This is the first time in the program’s history that the award has been given to an honoree from the same school as the previous year’s honoree, according to NMAITC officials.

Teacher of the Year

NM Ag in the Classroom 2018 Teacher of the Year Julie Janecka accepts her award from Traci Curry of Ag in the Classroom during a recognition ceremony Thursday, Nov. 30 in the East Picacho Elementary cafeteria. (from left to right) NMAITC Southern Director Traci Curry, East Picacho Elementary Principal Nubia Tarazona, East Picacho Elementary Teacher Julie Janecka, East Picacho Elementary Vice Principal James Dickerson.

“It’s wonderful to see an educator using our community’s culture and resources to develop effective and engaging lessons for her students,” said LCPS Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing. “We’re honored to have such a talented, innovative and award-winning educator in our district.”

As part of the recognition, Janeka was honored at the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau’s 100th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, NM. Janecka was also honored at a schoolwide recognition ceremony Thursday, Nov. 30 in the EPE cafeteria.

In addition, Janecka received a customized belt buckle and will also receive a $500 stipend from NMAITC to compete in the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Excellence in Teaching Award at the organization’s national conference in Portland, Maine.

Janecka was selected for the award largely because of her chile-themed, nine-week lesson plan submitted as part of her application for the award. Janecka developed and refined the lesson plan, with the help of her colleagues, over the past three years.

The comprehensive lesson plan included project-based tasks which taught the students about chile growing, chile varieties, how chile impacts the local economy, how technology has changed agriculture, crop monitoring techniques and various other educational topics. Over the course of nine weeks, the chile-themed activities in the lesson also covered a wide range of academic subjects such as math, language arts and science.

“Although we had many great submissions this year, Julie’s lesson plan gave her students one of most comprehensive educational experiences I’ve ever seen at an elementary school,” said NMAITC Southern Director Traci Curry.

The awards program was judged by a panel of three judges that was composed of officials from the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau Livestock Foundation Board and previous NMAITC Teacher of the Year winners. Since the awards program was designed to recognize non-agriculture teachers who incorporate agriculture into general education curriculum, the competition was open to kindergarten- through 12th-grade general education teachers in New Mexico.

Last year, for the first time in the awards program’s history, the NMAITC Award was awarded to five EPE teachers: Jessica Bouloiseau, Ashley Cartwright, Lucia Gutierrez, Abigail Husson-Matter and Silvia Mariscal.

The New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau is a 19,000 member organization comprised of farmers, ranchers, and those who are interested in private property rights and a local food supply. The NMAITC is a non-profit educational outreach program, funded primarily by the membership of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, designed to educate the general public, with an emphasis on K-12 students and educators, about the importance of agriculture.

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