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News from 2021-2022

Posted: October 29, 2021

Whittier Teachers Get Daily Professional Training

Educators at the transformation elementary school come together each day to share success stories and challenges and receive in-depth training and advisement.

Note: Staff who support New Mexico lawmakers visited schools as they prepare for the 2022 legislative session. We are featuring some of the APS schools and programs they learned about.

Albuquerque Public Schools is a vast and diverse school district, and the needs of its students are equally diverse. Thankfully, there are extraordinary teachers and programs to meet some extraordinary needs.

Whittier Elementary School in Southeast Albuquerque provides its staff with daily, focused, professional trainings to meet the particular challenges of the school’s population, a student body more likely to experience hardships and barriers to achievement that can cause setbacks in the learning process.

“The professional development here is completely embedded, not just an extra, periodic thing,” says Whittier Principal Kimberly Finke. “This is one of the most impoverished communities in the entire state. There’s a lot of trauma and we have to be real that it takes extra for some of our kids, but if what we want is actual graduation rates increasing, going on to meaningful careers, college, the military, and trade school, then we’re just going to have to do more. And everyone here has really accepted that, and they know when they sign on as a teacher, it’s more. It has to be.”

The daily professional development sessions provide teachers the opportunity to come together to analyze student work and make real-time adjustments to teaching methods to best support and assist the students, instead of the usual process of waiting until the end of each unit. The daily workshops also allow teachers to share success stories and challenges and receive in-depth trainings and advisement on alternative and specialized approaches to teaching that best accommodate their students’ circumstances.

“It is a lot some days, but it’s worth it. It really allows us to sit together and to deep dive into those really important issues,” says Megan Dominguez, a teacher at Whittier. “Before, it was very surface—we need to teach this, we need to teach that—and now we’re actually deep diving and looking into what we need to expand on in the problem areas, then implementing it so that we’re meeting the needs of our students and meeting those standards.”

Whittier is one of 11 transformation elementary schools in APS. The schools offer students focused, personalized guidance for subjects they find the most challenging, have 10 more days of learning each year, and longer days that finish with fun, educational activities. That last hour, known as Genius Hour, allows students to explore their interests and have a choice in what they learn.

“My families are in constant communication with me,” Dominguez says. “So that’s probably my biggest reward being here, learning how to build those relationships, not just with my students, but with their families, too, because we’re a team—we’re here for their kids.”