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2016-2017 Horizon Award Grantees

Forty innovative projects in fine arts, STEM and literacy have been funded through the 2016 APS Education Foundation Horizon Awards. The grants, totaling more than $100,000, will assist teams of APS teachers as they provide dynamic instruction to their students.

Members of the APS Education Foundation Board of Directors and members of the community made decisions on a record number of submissions.

“These awards will help our teachers create even more dynamic approaches to their classrooms,” said Phill Casaus, executive director of the Foundation.

Individuals in the community and businesses throughout Albuquerque help make Horizon Awards and other Foundation grants possible. Another key component, he added, was the APS Employees’ United Way Campaign, proceeds from which go to the Foundation and help fund the grants.

Earlier this year, the Foundation Awarded $150,000 in schoolwide grants through the Guhl Literacy and Success Awards.

This year, Intel was the lead sponsor of the Foundation’s 12 Horizon STEM grants.

“We’re so grateful to our partners for their belief in public education, but we’re just as grateful to the teachers and principals who create these projects,” Casaus said.

Horizon Award recipients include (lead applicants are listed; in many cases teams included other teachers):

Fine Arts

  • Josephine Gonzales, Highland High School, $1,000: “Building a Music Library.”
  • Melissa Harris, Truman Middle School, $1,500: “Band Clinicians.”
  • Lena Russell, Highland High School, $1,500: “Art Motivates.”
  • Valerie Velhagen, Eldorado High School, $1,500: “Ukelele Meet-Up.”
  • Shelly Andes, Madison Middle School, $1,125: “Let’s Get Albuquerque Singing.”
  • Dale Simpkins and Ryan Schlee, Hoover Middle School, $5,000: “Middle School Set Design.”
  • Ryan Morris, Sandia High School, $1,500: “The Future of Film.”
  • Jessica Krichels, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, $1,500: “Cultural Identity Mural Project.”
  • Shannon McCrady, Polk Middle School, $1,500: “Seeing is Believing! The Wonders of Meow Wolf.”
  • Galadriel Thompson, Valley High School, $1,500: “Wireless Mic System.”
  • Elisabeth Blech, Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School, $1,500: “Raise Awareness, Evoke Change, Youth PSA Film Project.”
  • Sara Cook and Nikki Denisson, Jefferson Middle School, $5,000: “Curiosity Corner: Creating a School Library With All Students in Mind.”
  • Michael Romero-Salas, Washington Middle School, $1,482: “Music Library Expansion.”
  • William Wadsworth, John Adams Middle School, $1,500: “Band Clinic Day for Music Performance Assessment.”


  • Liza O’Connor, Petroglyph Elementary School, $4,582: “The STEAM Academy in Virtual Reality.”
  • Chausie Forster and Kim Scheerer, Garfield Middle School, $4,400: “STEM Sharing: Running With Robotics.”
  • Cheryl Leung, Desert Ridge Middle School, $1,500: “Minions in Math.”
  • Gary Catalano and Patrick Florence, Manzano High School, $5,000: “Math Science Technology-Based Applications.”
  • Jennifer Novicki, Taft Middle School, $650: “Energy 2040.”
  • Kristin Padilla and Leah Dolan, Corrales Elementary School, $3,999: “Google Expeditions STEAM Supplement.”
  • Celia Sanchez, Edward Gonzales Elementary School, $4,972: “APS STI: SeaPerch PBL Opportunity for EGES.”
  • Carin Dhaouadi, Collet Park Elementary School, $1,315: “Hands-On Environmental Education and Communication Support.”
  • Laura Flores, Rudolfo Anaya Elementary School, $5,000: “Full STEAM Ahead.”
  • Matt Reynolds, Amy Traylor, Nikki Turman and Josh Garcia, Del Norte High School, 5,000: “Technology Meets Ancient Tradition.”
  • Jennifer Coughlin, Kris Hayward and Gary Bodman, Eldorado High School, $5,000: “Concussion Physics Project.”
  • Beth Bunzel and Heather Wing, Comanche Elementary School, $4,823: “Cubelets: Modular Robotics in the Classroom.”


  • Mairi Mahal Tanedo and Alicia Fajardo, Hodgin Elementary School, $3,500: “Supporting Special Ed Literacy Curriculum With Innovative Diagnosis.”
  • Mairi Mahal Tanedo, Hodgin Elementary School, $1,500: “Multicultural Literacy Resource Center in the Classroom.”
  • Ira Cooper, Albuquerque High School, $1,500: “Newspapers in the 21st Century.”
  • Katherine Trujillo and Angelique Sanchez, Barcelona Elementary School, $4,000: “Building the Home and School Connector.”
  • Rachel White, Highland High School, $1,000: “Headphones for Literacy.”
  • Chad Matey, John Adams Middle School, $1,500: “Learning ESL Through Music.”
  • Marianita Ortiz-Duran and Catalina Ortiz-Duran, Mary Ann Binford Elementary School, $3,259: “Empower Students to Grow as Readers and Writers!”
  • Diana Switaj and Joyce Comer, James Monroe Middle School, $2,726: “Digital Playwriting.”
  • Leslie Morris and Christina Leonard, Osuna Elementary School, $1,050: “i-Ready for Reading.”
  • Christina Leonard, Osuna Elementary School, $1,416: “Chromebooks in the Classroom.”
  • Tim Petre, Homebound Instruction, $169: “News 2 You!”
  • Elizabeth Lansford, Bandelier Elementary School, $4,100: “Strengthening Reading and Writing Instruction.”
  • Dewette Decker and Celina Esquibel, Taft Middle School, $1,414: “Writing Literacy for the Future.”
  • Celia Ascenzi, Atrisco Elementary School, “Bilingual Library Grant.”
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