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Posted: December 9, 2019

2020 APS Hall of Honor Inductees Announced

Long-time educators Helen Fox and Ruthie Owens will be recognized during the APS Education Foundation's Gold Bar 2020 in April.

First introduced in 2017, the Albuquerque Public Schools Hall of Honor is now an annual recognition. The APS Education Foundation will honor this year's inductees at Gold Bar 2020 on April 17 at Sandia Resort & Casino. Following the event, their plaques will be displayed in the APS Hall of Honor located on the first floor of the APS administration building (Bruce and Alice King Educational Complex), 6400 Uptown Blvd NE. 

This year, the Foundation received a record number of nominations. To be considered, nominees must have served the district for at least 15 years and shown a deep and lasting district-wide impact. The volunteer APS Hall of Honor Selection Committee made up of current and retired APS employees thoroughly reviewed all nominations and letters of recommendation before arriving at their decision for the 2020 induction.

The APS Education Foundation is proud to announce this year’s inductees:

Helen Fox

Helen Fox began as a resource teacher in the Special Education Department. In 1994, she was tasked to lead the Homeless and Migrant Program to administrate a small grant aimed at identifying homeless children in Albuquerque and providing support so they could enroll in school.

At the time, the belief was that Ms. Fox and just one other employee would serve approximately 100 children. They quickly found the need was much greater. Today, the Title I Homeless Project serves between 3,500 and 4,000 students and their families identified as homeless each year. The staff of two has grown to a staff of nearly twenty. The expansion of services did not happen overnight. Still, it took the determination and fierce leadership of Ms. Fox to locate homeless youth and provide critical resources so they could attend school and create brighter futures.

As she began her search for students needing a classroom, Ms. Fox drove up and down Central Avenue, visiting motels and offering transportation. She championed a preschool called Alphabet Alley and took our city’s youngest and most underserved learners to an environment in which they could thrive and prepare for kindergarten. She worked with the Central United Methodist Church to engage volunteers in donating and assembling snack packs for students who would not have food to eat when not at school. She created strong partnerships that proved as catalysts to reaching more families needing help in enrollment and ensuring their students had transportation to school once enrolled. 

Motivated by the achievements of children facing seemingly insurmountable challenges of poverty and homelessness, Ms. Fox fought to provide every resource and basic necessity she could and inspired her staff and colleagues to join her in fighting on behalf of all the children who needed them most.

Albuquerque is home to so many without homes -- families living in motels, in vehicles, or inadequate housing. Thanks to Ms. Fox, they now have somewhere to turn, an entire team inside Albuquerque Public Schools with programs ready to help ensure every student, no matter of income level, receives an education.

Ruthie Owens

There are schools proud to claim Ruthie Owens, including Washington Middle School, Kit Carson Elementary School, Duranes Elementary School, and Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School. She started in 1969 as an education assistant and retired in 1995 as a principal.

Her 34-year career in education not only provided hard-won professional achievements for Ms. Owens but for countless educators, she mentored and counseled. Her direct impact on students is immeasurable, as she knew early on the important role both the school and outside community play in pushing for success in academics and life. She brought together several stakeholders to support each student. Even when students had moved on to higher grade levels, higher education, and careers, she never stopped encouraging them.

For her staff and faculty, Ms. Owens never stopped pushing for excellence, encouraging her staff to learn through professional development opportunities to better their practice. She was relentless in advocating for career advancements for teachers with the potential to lead, mentor, and guide others in the field. 

Ms. Owens was also a great leader and mentor of leaders because of her deep understanding of the importance of ensuring that all students had the opportunity to learn in more than one language of many different cultures, including their own. Her leadership style is exemplified in her legacy leading the way for single-track year-round schools in New Mexico.

Ms. Owens learned the educational needs of our students and found the best ways to meet those needs, ensuring that she and her educators could meet them wherever they were no matter what challenges they faced. 

Both Helen Fox and Ruthie Owens continue to serve as examples to all those working in Albuquerque Public Schools. They are both described as fearless, never wary of learning and embracing truths. Their unrelenting dedication meant they were unafraid to champion innovative approaches to better the lives of the students they served.  

For more stories of their legacy and information on the APS Hall of Honor and Gold Bar 2020, visit the APS Education Foundation’s website

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