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Posted: January 31, 2020

Focused Intention

In her weekly message, Supt. Reedy highlights San Antonito STEM Magnet Elementary School, which was recently named New Mexico's first National Magnet School of Distinction.

At San Antonito STEM Magnet Elementary School, everything is intentional: its focus on environmental science, its grade-level project-based learning, its relationship with community partners, its emphasis on student voice and choice. 

That focused intention has paid off. San Antonito was recently named New Mexico’s first National Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools.

Coronado Elementary School, another APS magnet school with an emphasis on dual language, is New Mexico’s only Nationally Certified Magnet School, earning the honor a couple of years ago after participating in a rigorous evaluation based on the five pillars of magnet schools: diversity; innovative curriculum and professional development; academic excellence; high-quality instruction systems; and family and community partnerships.

Now that they’ve been named a School of Distinction, San Antonito is working on becoming the state’s second certified magnet school, says Principal Patricia Gallegos. I have no doubt they will reach that goal.

The charming school nestled in the Sandia Mountains converted into a magnet school a few years ago in response to its declining student population. Now, about a quarter of its students come from outside their district – including some from Edgewood and Moriarty and even a few who make the trek from Albuquerque each day – and there’s a waiting list of students and families interested in an education focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Patricia says the school’s focus on environmental science was an obvious choice considering its picturesque surroundings in the tiny East Mountain town it’s named after, population 985, according to Wikipedia.

I love the school’s hands-on, real-world focus on learning, from project-based learning to Query Clubs to STEM integration across the curriculum. Each grade level at San Antonito participates in a year-round project that evolves and changes along with the students. The kindergarteners are gardeners, first and fourth graders focus on fire safety and prevention, second graders are in charge of the butterfly pavilion, third graders take care of composting, and fifth graders are energy conservationists.

Believe me, these students take their roles very seriously. The fifth graders have earned the school $1,500 in rebates for their conservation efforts this school year. The fourth graders worked with the forest department on soil erosion prevention following a forest fire. And every day at lunch, the third graders let their schoolmates know which leftovers should be scraped into the composting bucket. Patricia recalls the students’ disconcertion when buttered broccoli, which can’t be composted, was accidentally scraped into some of the buckets.

Those are just a few examples of the real-world teaching that’s happening in schools across our district, at magnet schools like San Antonito and Coronado, and at our neighborhood schools, too.

The last week of January is School Choice Week, a time when families search for the right learning environment for their children in the coming year. For most of our students, their neighborhood school works just fine. But it’s nice to offer options, and APS has so many wonderful options that families are taking advantage of for many different reasons.

Learn More About APS Magnet Schools 

The goal of the APS Office of Innovation and School Choice is to offer a variety of choices for our families so that students have an innovative, high quality, unique learning experience. Those choices are growing and improving all the time, thanks to schools like San Antonito STEM Magnet Elementary School.