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Posted November 26, 2013

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APS Heroes in Education Recognized

Several APS representatives were recently honored including two principals, a special education teacher, a math-teaching couple, an elementary PE teacher, a JROTC instructor, a volunteer and a local businessman.

Heroes in Education is a local program of Fidelity Investments created to recognize those who dedicate their time, resources and energy to making a difference in the lives of young people. The Albuquerque Publishing Co. has sponsored the program for the past two years. Profiles of each honoree appeared in Fidelity ads in the Albuquerque Journal's Monday Business Outlook during the past year. This year as last, honorees received framed copies of their profiles and each received a $250 grant to present to a favorite nonprofit organization.

This year's Albuquerque Public Schools Heroes in Education are:

Ben Santistevan, principal at West Mesa High School
West Mesa, under Mr. Santistevan's leadership, saw an improved graduation rate of 12 points to 70 percent in 2012. He has been described as 'the key component of a renaissance.' He's created success with enthusiasm, passion and persistence. His willingness to work with all segments of his community and student body have sparked a can-do feeling of success.

David C. Wells, principal at cCADEMY
Mr. Wells hit the ground running in 2008, building his blended online and hands-on school to 5,500 kids from the students who enrolled at the beginning. Mr. Wells is applauded for decreasing school budgets while increasing graduation rates through the blended learning model which allows students to learn at their own pace. He has championed personalized learning policies at eCADEMY and continually strives to provide high quality alternative education opportunities for his students.

1st Sgt. Alberto Griego, Marine Corps JROTC instructor at La Cueva High
After a 20-year military career, 1st. Sgt. Griego has trained young me and women for 12 years at La Cueva, whether after graduation they headed to the military, college or into the workforce. He doesn't recruit, but he offers his cadets another look at life. "I do want them to be prepared to make informed decisions after high school," he said. "I want them to know they can be successful. I ask that they give 100 percent of themselves. I hold them responsible for their actions."

Laura and Marco Martinez, math teachers at Highland High
Increasingly aware that some students with Spanish as a first language weren't asking for help in class, the husband and wife team began communicating in a way teenagers everywhere understand - the Internet. They created short tutorials using virtual demonstrations in Spanish to reteach concepts introduced in their classes. The five-minute clips, more than 650 of them covering algebra to trigonometry and everything in between, are posted to YouTube, Facebook Blackboard and the couple's own website,

Amy Suman, PE teacher at Griegos Elementary
Ms. Suman, the only PE teacher at Griegos, develops a long-term relationship with every one of her students. She is aware of their personal and home situations and finds way to best interact with the kids in order to motivate them and make them feel like a valued and important member of the school and community at large. She encourages a healthy, active lifestyle not just for the students, teachers and staff, but the parents and guardians as well. She understands this is a crucial part of beings successful at school and helps to give every child the caring motivation they need.

Kathryn Auh, volunteer at Chamiza Elementary and Volcano Vista High
For more than 13 years, Ms. Auh has been available for all kinds of volunteer jobs including work in the library, the classroom, the prom, the PTA, the parent organization at Volcano Vista and for a variety of fundraisers. "I love volunteering," she said, adding that she knows it's been important to her daughters, Melissa Louise, a senior, and Charlotte, a fourth grader. "I just always wanted to know they were safe and happy."

Anthony D. Trujillo, president of Holman's USA
Since 2011, Holman's has donated more than 40 iPads to six different public school classrooms for autistic children through its Technology for Autism program. "It's my passion to help these kids. I know it makes a difference," Mr. Trujillo said. His efforts toward putting cutting-edge technology in APS autism classrooms have really made a difference -- teachers rave about what his donations do for their kids every single day. He does this without fanfare or expectations. He just really wants to help.

Maria Venegas, special education teacher at Roosevelt Middle School
Ms. Venegas, who has been with APS for 13 years, teaches and coaches kids who have challenges learning in a regular classroom. "These kids don't need someone to lower the bar and dumb things down for them," she said. "I'm there to listen to them and find out what their spark is. what is their compelling interest that will inspire them and help them create a personal reason for learning? The kids have all the answers. You just have to help them discover it for themselves."


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