For a quarter of a century, the Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation has awarded grants for innovative and collaborative teaching, learning, and student support. More than $8 million has gone to classrooms, schools, and departments to help pay for everything from equipment and supplies to field trips to training. A couple of months ago, the Foundation granted another $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 grantees gives you just a glimpse of the phenomenal instruction happening in our classrooms and schools across the district every day. This pandemic may have overfilled our plates, but it hasn’t diminished our enthusiasm for education, our passion for the kids 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 gaming and 3D printing. They dance, sling arrows (in archery classes), explore their surroundings, study their cultures, work together, solve problems, develop leadership skills.
For example, at Roosevelt Middle School, teacher Robyn Clarke received support for a student-directed musical production that will allow students to “implement creativity, ingenuity, and be stretched to work collaboratively toward the end goal.”
At Wilson Middle School, Susan Schipull’s garden elective classes work with the Intensive Global Support Services class to grow plants in traditional and hydroponics/aquaponics growing systems. They’re also making a community seed library, creating a cookbook, and using digital and media arts to tell the garden story.
A lot of teachers are taking learning outside these days. Like Jordan Orlovsky, a teacher at eCADEMY High School, who used grant money to take her students on hiking trips, allowing them to explore the concepts they studied online as well as to escape isolation, meet friends and build relationships.
Our grant recipients make up a tiny fraction of our creative, supportive, and devoted workforce. Lately, I have spent a lot of time, unfortunately, putting out fires sparked mostly by COVID and the cyberattack. But when I do get out to the schools, I am impressed by what I witness and reminded of why I do this job. It’s an honor, really, to work with such caring individuals.
Not long ago, staff representing the Legislative Education Study Committee visited several of our schools to learn more about how we educate and support students. We posted stories on our website about several of these visits. The stories got overlooked amid all of the information we’ve needed to share with staff and families. I wanted to share them here today so that you can appreciate some of the excellent work that’s taking place:
- Harrison Middle School is AVID About Learning: The program is developing leadership skills that will help students in high school, later in college, and hopefully in life.
- Manzano’s College-Bound and Career-Ready Culture: The high school is providing innovative programs, internships, resources, and even a “human library.”
- Westside Elementary School is a Model of Inclusivity: S.R. Marmon combines general education, Indian education, special education, dual language, English language development, enrichment, and gifted programs.
- Arts Integration Puts the “Art” in “Smart”: The goal of schools like Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts is to help kids advocate for themselves, think for themselves, and question.
- AHA Choices Include Navajo Language and Culture: The unique class at Atrisco Heritage Academy includes field trips, mock trials, art shows, cooking and catering, performances, and a recent fashion show.
- Genius Hour Is a Recipe for Success: Los Padillas Elementary School is one of several APS elementary schools that incorporate extra time in the school day for electives.
- Whittier Teachers Get Daily Professional Training: Educators at the transformation elementary school come together each day to share success stories and challenges and receive in-depth training and advisement.
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 don’t apply for a grant or have a story about your school posted to the website or featured on the local news, I know you’re doing good work. You don’t have to be in the spotlight to shine. I appreciate you and all you do.