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San Antonito ES Named National Magnet School of Distinction

Posted January 31, 2020, 11:05 AM. Updated July 5, 2022, 10:50 AM.

The APS STEM school is the state’s first to earn the honor.

Albuquerque Public Schools’ San Antonito STEM Elementary School has been named a National Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America, the national association for magnet and theme-based schools. The school, located in the East Mountains, is the first in New Mexico to earn the honor.

San Antonito focuses on environmental science, a natural choice considering its surroundings. It 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 the school’s 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 education focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The school emphasizes hands-on, real-world learning. For example, 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.

“Albuquerque Public Schools offers a variety of choices for our families so that students have innovative, high quality, unique learning experiences. Those choices are growing and improving all the time, thanks to schools like San Antonito STEM Magnet Elementary School,” said APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy. “Congratulations to San Antonito staff, students and families. You have earned this honor.”

Principal Patricia Gallegos will be recognized and receive a National Magnet School of Distinction Merit Award on behalf of the school during an awards ceremony held at Magnet Schools of America’s 38th National Conference in Nevada in April.

“Our school is all about providing real-world experiences across the curriculum,” Gallegos said. “We are helping our students become productive citizens by teaching them problem-solving skills and sound decision making. They aren’t just reading an article. They’re living it.”

Magnet School of Distinction Awards are only given to a select group of magnet schools. Schools of Distinction are eligible to receive monetary awards and are eligible to be named the nation’s top Elementary, Secondary, or New & Emerging Magnet School. One of the schools will also be selected to win $5,000 and the Dr. Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award, which is considered the most prestigious magnet school award in the nation.

To receive a national merit award, members of Magnet Schools of America must submit a detailed application that is scored by a panel of educators. These schools are judged and scored on their demonstrated ability to raise student academic achievement, promote racial and socioeconomic diversity, provide integrated curricula and instruction, and create strong family and community partnerships that enhance the school’s magnet theme.

Two years ago, Coronado Elementary School, another APS magnet school with an emphasis on dual language, was named New Mexico’s only Nationally Certified Magnet School by Magnet Schools of America.

Magnet Schools of America held its fall Technical Assistance and Training Conference in Albuquerque in October. More than 160 educators from across the nation attended.