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Superintendent's News

Posted: January 20, 2023

Helping Students Find Their Passion

In his weekly message, Superintendent Scott Elder discusses the district’s efforts to help students figure out a path forward after graduation.

At Albuquerque Public Schools, our mission is to educate students. Part of that involves helping kids of all ages explore their world, figure out what excites them and then helping them pick what they want to do after high school.

Having been an educator for more than three decades, I know that success after high school takes many forms. For many, that includes college and graduate degrees and then a career in their chosen field. Others are looking to graduate from high school and go straight into the workforce, which includes everything from working for a government agency to going into the private sector. Still others go into the trades, becoming plumbers and electricians and making great livings.

The picture of success is as varied as our student body, and that’s a good thing because the world needs poets AND mechanics. It needs CEOs AND plumbers. It needs teachers AND chefs.

At APS, we’re working hard to help students find their niche so they have an idea of what they’re good at and what they’re passionate about. And we’re doing that by exposing them to a cornucopia of programs and experiences.

I was reminded of this by Analeeza Gonzalez, a West Mesa High School senior and the current student of the week. In her bio, Analeeza says she found her path forward in the NJROTC program. “I’ve been in the program for four years. I enjoy the structure and unit activities, and Senior Chief and Major are preparing me for my life after graduation,” she said. “Their mentorship has had a considerable impact on me.” She is planning to become a Marine after she graduates in May.

To be clear, our junior ROTC programs are aimed at developing leadership qualities, but it’s great that the program helped Analeeza figure out what she wants to do after she graduates. I’m grateful for everyone on our campuses working every day to help students figure out what they’re passionate about – and whether they want to become doctors, engineers or firefighters.

The great thing about our comprehensive high schools is we offer a little bit of everything, from culinary arts and bilingual programs to JROTC and STEM pathways. And we’re working hard to expand our programs so that students have a taste of the many possibilities that await them when they graduate.

We’ve recently partnered with Albuquerque Fire Rescue, the city’s fire department, on an ambassador program that welcomes firefighters into high schools. It effectively serves as a bridge for high school students who might be interested in an AFR career. We fully recognize that battling fires isn’t for everyone, but this program offers a great opportunity to explore this type of career for students who are intrigued by the work.

We’re also working to launch an agriculture-based STEM K-12 grade pathway at Mountain View Elementary, Polk Middle and Rio Grande High. U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján secured a $275,000 grant to help us with that effort at the three South Valley schools. This project builds on our Engineering the Future pathway, established in 2017, which focuses on engineering and STEM at Mission Elementary, Garfield STEM Magnet and Community School, and Valley High.

As we move forward with these programs, know that we’re trying to be more thoughtful and we’re basing many of our decisions on community feedback we’ve received.

Have a great weekend.