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Posted May 20, 2013

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Chaparral ES Teacher Named Teacher of the Year by NMPTA

Renee Rodarte-Keeling has been an active member of the PTA since she began teaching 28 years ago.

Renee Rodarte-Keeling, a third-grade teacher at Chaparral Elementary, has been named the Teacher of the Year by the New Mexico Parent Teacher Association.

Ms. Keeling, a native New Mexican, has been active in the PTA since she became a teacher 28 years ago at Hodgin Elementary. She has been teaching third grade at Chaparral since 1990.

"I have been an active member of the PTA at both Hodgin and Chaparral every year of my teaching career. I try to attend every PTA board and general meeting. I even held the position of vice-president for two years when we didn't have enough parents volunteering to help us out. I have always been a strong advocate for our PTA and our wonderful volunteers who give so much time of their own to help out at our school," Ms. Keeling said.

She decided to join the PTA in honor of her mother, Loretta Rodarte, who was instrumental in starting the PTA at Los Ranchos Elementary School when Ms. Keeling was in fifth grade. "I remember how proud I was that my mom was volunteering so hard at school to help make our school a better place."

Ms. Keeling said she is honored to have been recognized by the NMPTA. "I have worked with so many wonderful parent volunteers over the years and have remained close friends with many of them," she said. "Our parent volunteers are so valuable and their contributions to our schools are always greatly appreciated."

Kim Kerschen, the president-elect of the state PTA, said Ms. Keeling was selected as Teacher of the Year because of her passion and drive.

"She is a strong proponent of her students' welfare and well-being. It is her top priority," said Ms. Kerschen. "For over 20 years she has run a canned food drive for families in need at her school and puts together baskets along with her students.  Renee is constantly trying to build relationships between the school and parents with her open-door policy."

The state PTA represents more than 130 schools, including 80 in Albuquerque. Teachers are nominated by their school PTAs. Ms. Keeling was nominated by the Chaparral PTA and selected as Teacher of the Year by a state PTA committee.

"After 28 years of teaching I still love my job. I enjoy the creative part of teaching, but the best part for me is seeing the children laugh, get excited, and progress to a level of success and independence," said Ms. Keeling. "I feel especially proud when my former students invite me to their high school and even their college graduations."

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