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Posted: November 7, 2009

Pepsi Honors First APS Teacher of the Month

Dr. Simons-Ailes (center) poses with Monte Vista Elementary principal, Leith Page (left), and APS Foundation Director, Phill Casaus (right).

Dr. Simons-Ailes (center) poses with Monte Vista Elementary principal, Leith Page (left), and APS Foundation Director, Phill Casaus (right).

Whether using a printing press or the Internet, Albuquerque Public Schools teacher Dr. Sandra Simons-Ailes knows that the key to knowledge is information access. 

“If you want to close the learning gap for lower income and minority students, close the information gap,” said Simons-Ailes, the first-ever Pepsi APS Teacher of the Month. 

Pepsi, in partnership with the APS Education Foundation, began this month recognizing APS teachers for their outstanding contribution to the classroom, school and community. The Foundation will randomly select one APS school each month, and that school’s principal will be asked to choose a teacher to be honored. The teacher will receive a $50 check from Pepsi and acknowledgment on the APS website and Facebook page. 

For Monte Vista Elementary School Principal Leith Page, the choice was easy: a 35-year veteran who began her career running a printing press and developing literacy and early childhood programs on the Acoma Pueblo. 

Simons-Ailes, who has her doctorate degree in educational linguistics, has spent a quarter of a century at Monte Vista, not only as a dynamic classroom teacher but also as the technology coordinator responsible for wiring the University-area school for technology nearly 20 years ago, making it the state’s first computer networked school. 

The fourth grade teacher cultivated her interest in technology at an early age – she remembers her father building a computer with tubes that could add to 64. In the early 1990s – long before widespread use of the Internet – she led a team of volunteers who spent weekends eventually networking 25 percent of APS schools and 10 percent of schools throughout New Mexico. 

“There are so many teachers who are doing such great work and who deserve to be recognized. I’m thrilled to be honored as one of those teachers,” Simons-Ailes said recently from her classroom where crystals grow on the windowsills, children’s artwork adorns the walls and the use of technology is apparent. 

Phill Casaus, executive director of the APS Foundation, applauded Simons-Ailes for her contributions to Monte Vista, the APS community and education across the state. “Dr. Simons-Ailes exemplifies education at its best – she is dedicated, dynamic, caring and evolving. We are pleased to be able to honor her as a teacher of the month, and look forward to acknowledging many more teachers like her throughout the school year.”