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Posted May 24, 2010

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Gay Blech Retiring

Gay Blech, who is retiring this year, has been a true pioneer in APS. Her career has been marked by extraordinary professionalism and innovation for over 29 years. In those years she has taught every grade level from first and eighth, served on countless committees, sponsored numerous school activities and clubs, and pioneered the use of technology in the schools.

After a brief temporary teaching assignment, Blech began her career 29 years ago at Dolores Gonzales Elementary. As a result of her success there, she was hand-picked as an outstanding faculty member to aid in a new program to improve learning for disadvantaged students at Eugene Field Elementary. Her bilingualism was another factor in her success with students and the community. She was designated as a mentor teacher in only her fourth year as a teacher. Gay then taught for two years at Hubert Humphrey Elementary. When Gay transferred to Oñate Elementary School in 1989, technology was just beginning to revolutionize education and Gay was at the forefront. There she teamed with a partner in education, Sandia Labs. Working with a brilliant engineer from Sandia, Joe Hass, Gay energized a community volunteer movement to wire the school and network the school’s Apple IIe computers. Hass’ custom software program allowed all the Oñate computers to use over 50 educational computer applications, a tremendous accomplishment for the time. Soon, Gay was giving technology workshops throughout the state. At Oñate, Gay also began to publish a yearbook, aided by another custom computer program by Hass which automated the process of pairing names and faces of students. Eventually, computer technology would revolutionize yearbook publication, and Gay would be part of this as Hoover Mid School’s yearbook teacher.

In 1994 Gay earned her master’s degree in a new, experimental program at UNM called Integrating Technology in the Schools. She was among the first graduates of this program in Albuquerque and was also honored as a recipient of New Mexico Computer Users in Education Honor Roll.

Oñate Elementary was one a handful of schools in the 1990s that decided to experiment with a year-round school schedule, a schedule that Oñate still uses. Gay was an instrumental faculty member to support and implement year-round schooling, serving on school and community committees.  During the winter break of the schedule, she drove students to the Sandia Peak Ski Area each day where they learned to snow ski, taught by another teacher, a professional ski instructor who also taught at Oñate.

By 1997, Gay had moved on to middle school at Hoover where, with tremendous energy, she taught computer applications, published the Hoover yearbook, coordinated Hoover technology, cosponsored the Hoover Honor Society and the Hoover Knowledge Master’s Open Team and put together, on a yearly basis, the Hoover Talent Show, just to mention a few of her contributions. At the same time, she chaired an Eldorado Band Boosters committee (both of her children played in the band) and she was a member of the Eldorado Parent Advisory Board. When funds for technology education at Hoover eventually dried up, Gay took a position teaching computer applications at LBJ Mid School where she has been for the last two years, still innovating and creating, with two other teachers, a true collaborative learning community.

Last week, Albuquerque celebrated the 28th annual “Senior Citizen I Know” essay contest. Mayor Richard Berry was there to sing the praises of a program that has involved over 4,000 youngsters each year in the Albuquerque area for almost three decades. Those who were present witnessed an extraordinary process, the tremendous power of family support and respect in the lives of young and old. Many cried as Gay Blech, a community volunteer for this program every year since its inception, and Steve Stucker from KOB, read some of the essays.

She is an innovating pioneer, an extraordinary professional, a wonderful wife and mother, a teacher who has made a mark on this world. A few days ago from the new Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M., a rocket launch sent New Mexico student projects into space and Gay said, “I want my students to be involved with that next year.” She always inspired her students to work hard, have high standards, have a dream, and “The Sky’s The Limit.”

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