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News from the Foundation

Posted: October 3, 2023

Outstanding October Employees

This month's honorees include an executive administrative assistant, a school police services dispatch/evidence manager, a school clerk, and a family liaison.

Albuquerque Public Schools is filled with dedicated professionals who devote their time and talent to helping the district meet the needs of students.

For the sixth year, the district recognizes at least a few of these outstanding employees through the Employee Recognition Program.

All staff members employed for at least six months can be nominated, though we ask that you not nominate yourself.

October’s Honorees

  • Michele Apodaca
  • Shashanna Gonzalez
  • Michaela Salas
  • Katy Slota

The honorees are being featured on APS electronic billboards around town and will have an opportunity to visit with Superintendent Scott Elder or his representative. They also will receive a lasting memento.

Nominate an APS employee!

Learn More About October’s Nominees

Michele Apodaca – Executive Administrative Assistant, Student, Family, and Community Supports Division

Michele Apodaca is always the first person to welcome new employees to her department. She’s patient, serving as a resource for anyone who has a question. And she goes above and beyond to support her peers and help them get the job done.

Apodaca is the executive administrative assistant for the Student, Family, and Community Supports Division, and she’s indispensable to her colleagues.

“Michele has such a great personality and smile, she just lights up the room when you walk in to see her,” one of her colleagues says. “If you are ever having a bad day she is the person to go see because she will cheer you up and make you laugh, or ask if she can help make it better. She presents herself as a very professional individual who takes pride in all that she does and cares a lot about her peers.”

She demonstrates that through such actions as creating welcome signs for new employees and doing everything possible to make them feel welcome. 

Shashanna Gonzalez – Dispatch/Evidence Manager, APS Police

She’s one of the many dedicated individuals in the APS Police Department who comes to work every day focused on keeping students and employees safe.

Shashanna Gonzalez is the district’s dispatch/evidence manager, and she is always willing to help out any way she can.

“She is a woman that wears many hats, and we are extremely thankful to be able to know that she is always there to help out,” says one of her colleagues. “She is an employee that can be counted on anytime.”

Michaela Salas – Clerk, Alvarado Elementary School

Hers is the first face people see when they enter the office at Alvarado Elementary. Michaela Salas is welcoming and helpful and always ready to jump in to help find a solution to any problem.

She is a beloved member of the school’s staff.

“On any given day, you will see her surrounded by students, who come to visit her and help her decorate the office with their drawings,” says one teacher at the school. “Michaela is an integral part of our staff who always goes above and beyond, especially with students.”

She has coloring pages, rewards for students cleaning up campus, and a kind, thoughtful listening ear for anyone having a conflict with a friend, the teacher adds.

Katy Slota  – Family Liaison, Jefferson Middle School

The people she works with say Katy Slota is “the heartbeat of Jefferson Middle School,” someone who represents “the absolute best of Albuquerque Public Schools.”

Slota is the family liaison at Jefferson. She makes herself available to families anytime they need assistance, even if it’s after work hours. She also works with Roadrunner Mobile Food Bank to secure food for families who need help.

“As a servant leader, she fosters trust, confidence, and belonging among students, staff, and families,” the counselor at her school says. “She is a constant facilitator of joy as she perpetuates positivity through her tireless actions to improve student outcomes leading to success.”

Among the things that set Slota apart is her ability to develop deep and trusting relationships with families from all backgrounds, especially those with significant needs. She does that in countless ways.

When Jefferson welcomed nine Afghan newcomers, Slota helped secure food that met their dietary needs, she provided them with prayer rugs and established a private place for them to continue their daily prayers at school, and she helped them with items for their home.

Beyond her work with families, Slota has helped turn the school’s Student Council into a robust organization.

“Katy regenerated Student Council and empowered students to engage as leaders in various ways, including the full planning and sponsoring of school dances, schoolwide sock drives for the community, spirit weeks to build school spirit, before school activities to foster belonging and fun (hot chocolate giveaways), and many other events that impact school climate in positive ways,” the counselor says.

How to nominate an employee

You can nominate an employee by filling out the Employee Recognition online application. Nominations must be completed by someone other than the nominee. Self-nominations are not eligible for consideration.

Award recipients will be selected monthly by a Peer Praise Task Force.