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Posted March 8, 2011

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Veteran Teacher Recognized for Dedication to AHS

John Lopez Has Served As Teacher, Coach, Activities Director, Club Sponsor

John Lopez is the very essence of Albuquerque High School – a Bulldogs teacher, coach, sponsor, parent and soon-to-be grandparent.

He’s a fixture at AHS, the only teacher there who also taught at the old Albuquerque High School downtown. He opened the now not-so-new school in 1974, and for the past 30 years has occupied the same glass-encased classroom above the commons.

When Lopez was named Teacher of the Month by Pepsi and the Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation, AHS principal Tim McCorkle said a more appropriate accolade would be teacher of the decades.

Lopez – who accepted the award in front of his son, Stephen, an AHS graduate who teaches special education at AHS – said he was humbled by the recognition.

“I truly enjoy working with students, passing out knowledge, challenging them to reach their potential, pushing them to go to college,” said Lopez, who teaches Chicano Studies and also co-sponsors the newspaper along with McCorkle.

“Times have changed, but students are students. They may have a lot more distractions now, and some don’t get the support at home they really need, but it’s still the same process.”

Lopez comes from a dynasty of educators. His father was a teacher and principal in his hometown of Española, and six of his siblings, several uncles and now his son are teachers. “It’s in our blood,” Lopez said.

All but two of Lopez’s 40 years of teaching have been at Albuquerque High (he started his career in Minnesota). During those four decades, he’s taught social studies, coached baseball and football, sponsored student government (for 22 years) and served as activities director.

All three of his sons graduated from Albuquerque High; next year, one of his grandchildren will join the ranks of the Bulldogs.

In addition to teaching at AHS, Lopez teaches an online New Mexico history class for a community college. And he’s written a historical novel about a teenager from a small Northern New Mexico town who enters the seminary during the turbulent 1960s. The novel, Pues Llamame Padre (Just Call me Father), was published in May. Years of teaching New Mexico history and Chicano studies adds an air of authenticity to the novel. It is available at www.iuniverse.com.

Lopez says writing the book was on his Bucket List of things he wants to accomplish in his life. Another goal: to teach one more year, so that he can be at Albuquerque High with his grandchild.

The Teacher of the Month program began nearly two years ago by Pepsi and the Education Foundation to recognize APS teachers for their outstanding contribution to the classroom, school and community. The Foundation randomly selects one APS school each month, and that school’s principal is asked to choose a teacher to be honored. The teachers receive a $50 check from Pepsi and acknowledgement on the APS website and Facebook page.

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