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Posted May 16, 2013

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Jim Ciccarello, Whittier ES

Jim  Ciccarello is retiring after 44 years in the Albuquerque Public Schools. He started in APS in 1969 at Lowell and Riverview elementaries.

Jim then went to Whittier Elementary where he has taught for 42 years. He also spent five years teaching PE at Bandelier Elementary. He has been an elementary physical education teacher and a track coach in that time period. He has been the girls' track coach at Manzano, Sandia and Highland high schools, and is currently in his 14th year of coaching track at La Cueva High School.

Jim Ciccarello moved to Albuquerque in 1958 from New Jersey and graduated from Valley High in 1961. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force from 1962 to 1966. Most of his time in the military was spent overseas in Japan and Turkey. Jim is a graduate of the University of New Mexico (1969) and did his student teaching at Jefferson Junior High and at Cortez elementary in Albuquerque.

Some of Jim's proudest contributions to APS students were his involvement in teaching gymnastics at the elementary level and taking young students to showcase their skills at UNM Lobo halftime basketball games; his dedication and commitment to the youth track clubs in the Albuquerque area that he helped start including the Duke City Dashers and the Albuquerque Track Club; and by far his involvement in starting the Whittier/Bandelier Jump Rope Team.

This jump rope team in the last 25 years has performed across New Mexico from Los Alamos to Las Cruces. They have spread the love of jump rope and fitness to thousands of New Mexico students.

It has been estimated that Jim has taught 65,000 students on a personal level and his career has touched six decades in longevity. When asked what was the single most important contribution Jim has made to New Mexico students, he responded, "I have worked with over two hundred student teachers in my career from the University of New Mexico, Highlands University, and New Mexico State University." By mentoring young student teachers he has passed on the love of fitness and physical education to thousands across our great state of New Mexico.

In 2001 Jim was awarded the Professional Achievement Award from the New Mexico Health Physical Education & Dance professional organization in New Mexico. In 2011 he was inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall Of Fame. He wrote a book that was published in 2012 titled "Coach, Coach, Look At Me!" The book was a memoir of all his teaching moments and of the great students and people he met in New Mexico.

In 2013 he was named the National High School Federation Girls Track Coach Of  the Year. He has retired from teaching physical education but has plans to stay involved in spreading the love of track and field and jump rope in New Mexico.

A retirement party in his honor will be held at Garduno’s on from 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 24. Please join us in celebrating this physical educator that has greatly contributed to our New Mexico students and athletes. For more information, call 550-4747.

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