"Teacher Of The Year" Named In Las Cruces

Apr 25, 2017

LAS CRUCES—Based on her extensive professional and community contributions and accomplishments, Rachel Knight, an agriculture and science teacher at Centennial High School (CHS), has been selected as the 2018 LCPS Teacher of the Year at the LCPS Foundation’s Annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Dinner, Monday, April 24, at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, 4100 Dripping Springs Road.

“It’s inspiring to see positive impact she [Knight] has made at her school and throughout our educational community,” LCPS Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing. “I’m honored to work with such an incredible group of distinguished educators, and I’d like to thank them for their leadership, dedication and continued commitment to supporting students throughout Las Cruces.”

Although this is the first year Knight has earned the prestigious award, in 2015, she was named 1st runner-up for the recognition — the same year she was also recognized as the 2015 Agriculture Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Knight has taught a variety of science and agriculture classes for past ten years and has been teaching at CHS since 2012.

   Four teachers were also selected as finalists for the top teacher award. They were: 1st runner-up – Ashley Cartwright, a third grade teacher at East Picacho Elementary School; 2nd runner-up – Natalie Goodwin, a French teacher at Las Cruces High School; 3rd runner-up – Terri Stockberger, a dual-language teacher at Valley View Elementary School; and 4th runner-up – Rosilyn Skibyak, an English teacher at Las Cruces High School.

As part of the recognition, all of the honorees received a commemorative award and will be recognized at an LCPS Board of Education meeting, Tuesday, May 16. At the school board meeting, each of the honorees is set to receive monetary awards from the following community sponsors: First Light Federal Credit Union, Horace Mann (Jerome Hanway), NEA-LC, Tommy Esparza, Carter Bain (Bill Byford), the Asombro Institute for Science Education, and an anonymous community sponsor.

The Teacher of the Year honorees were selected through a rigorous selection process which spanned nearly five months and included a nomination application and finalist interview, both of which were judged by a volunteer committee of LCPS employees, who selected honorees based on factors such as professional accomplishments and community service.  

This year the committee was facilitated by Professional Development Center Staff Development Specialists Jane E. Gurnea, Pete Dinger, and Chris Woods. Committee members included: David Morales, Brianna Duerksen, Mari Reyes, Susan Comer, Michelle Estrada, Jennifer Trantham and Cheryl Carreon.

In addition to recognizing the teacher of the year honorees, Bernadine Cotton, a teacher at Tombaugh Elementary School, Christina Parra, a teacher a Sierra Middle School, and Lisa J. Ehlers McCullers, a teacher at Arrowhead Park Early College High School, were recognized as recipients of the 2016 Dr. Sandra K. Nakamura Professional Development Award. The annual professional development award is given to LCPS teachers and administrators who deliver or support quality professional development which positively impacts the knowledge and practices of LCPS staff. 

Maggie Hornung, a teacher at Valley View and Desert Hills Elementary School, was also recognized for earning her National Board Teaching Certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) — an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the quality of teaching and learning by: maintaining rigorous standards for what teachers should know and be able to do; Providing a national voluntary system for certifying teachers who meet these standards; and advocating for National Board Certification in American education and capitalizing on the expertise of certified teachers, according to the NBPTS website.

Awards were also given to three students from Las Cruces High School and one from Centennial High School for being named National Merit Scholarship finalists — students who earned some of the highest scores on the national Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT)/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The students from LCHS are: Elisa Davidson, Irene Fernald, Tharani Murali. The Centennial High finalist is Renata Starostka.

Additionally, several students who earned recognition through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, based on their PSAT scores, were also honored. Those students included: Arrowhead Park Early College High School student Victoria Howard; Las Cruces High School Students Elisa Davidson, Adriana Sanchez, Matthew Torres; Mayfield High School students Ocran Holloway, Stephen Jeffries and Trevin Reyes; and Oñate High Schools students Bridget Andersen and Antonio Tabullo.

Proceeds from the annual recognition dinner fund teacher grants and student scholarships awarded by the LCPS Foundation, based upon competitive submissions.  These funds allow the recipients to undertake learning opportunities not otherwise possible within current public funding.

The dinner was sponsored by: Title Sponsor Century Bank; Platinum Sponsor Mountain View Regional Medical Center; Gold Sponsors Dean George Mychaskiw, Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine; Silver Sponsors The Gregg Martin Agency, Beasley Mitchell and Co., Michael and Jan Morehead, Joe Bullock, First American Bank, Raymond Greene, VFW Post 6917, Ben and Chris Woods; and Bronze Sponsors which include more than 20 local businesses and individuals.