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Posted: November 19, 2019

Golden Apple Awarded to 2 APS High School Teachers

Congratulations to Lesha Dawn Harenberg of Eldorado and Jeanie Stark of Del Norte.

Two Albuquerque Public Schools high school teachers were among seven who have been awarded the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2020. Congratulations to

  • Lesha Dawn Harenberg, Eldorado High School  
  • Elgenia “Jeanie” Stark, Del Norte High School 

Because so many teachers deserve recognition but there are only seven Golden Apple Awards available, the Selection Committee has also honored an additional nine finalists as Golden Apple Teachers of Distinction including two from APS:

  • Michael Nair, Albuquerque High School 
  • Unna Valdez, Sandia High School 

The Golden Apple Award has been given every year since 1996 to outstanding recipients from across the state. Recipients are nominated by their communities (parents, fellow teachers, principals, community partners) and complete a rigorous application and site visit process. 

88 teachers in 26 different New Mexico communities were nominated for the 2020 award. Nominated teachers completed a lengthy application describing their teaching methodology, professional development experiences, community volunteerism, and other aspects of their teaching philosophy. 

Sixteen teachers were selected as finalists. In the final stage of the selection process, a Selection Committee conducted a full-day site visit at each finalist’s school. The team observed the teacher in the classroom and interviewed the principal, other teachers, parents, students, and the finalist.

Golden Apple recipients are selected on the basis of the quality of their teaching.  Teachers receiving the award have also demonstrated a commitment to the profession of teaching and to their own professional growth as well as that of their colleagues.  Being recognized as a leader in their school community is also an important factor.  

The award includes a cash stipend and $4,000 to be used by each recipient toward their professional development. Award recipients become part of an ongoing professional community of outstanding teachers called the Golden Apple Academy of Fellows.

These outstanding educators will be honored at the Golden Apple Tribute to Teacher Excellence luncheon on Friday, April 3, 2020, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque. Individual tickets and table sponsorships for the Tribute to Teacher Excellence are available through the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico, (505) 268-5337, or by contacting

Nominations for the 2021 (middle school) cycle will be open in December. 


Tags: Core Schools