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News from 2022-2023

Posted: April 6, 2023

Another Golden Apple Winner: Dolores Gonzales Elementary Teacher Honored Tuesday

Norma Lujan-Quiñones is also being recognized by the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education.

Norma Lujan-Quiñones surrounded by her family.

Norma Lujan-Quiñones surrounded by her family.

Norma Lujan-Quiñones had no idea she was the guest of honor as she walked into her school library on Tuesday for what she thought was a celebration of the Dolores Gonzales Elementary librarian.

Lujan-Quiñones, a former bilingual teacher who now teaches dance, was being honored as a Golden Apple teacher, the second Albuquerque Public Schools teacher surprised with the award so far this year.

 “We used the fact that it was School Librarian Appreciation Day,” said Principal Lori Stuit. “We said, ‘Could you and Jose come and sing Las Mañanitas for our librarian?’”

Lujan-Quiñones agreed, but when she walked in she met up with former students, parents and her own family. Even her daughter who lives in New York took part in the festivities via smartphone.

KRQE-TV captured Lujan-Quiñones’ reaction as she was told that the celebration was for her because she had been selected as a Golden Apple winner. She smiled but then quickly became emotional.

“I just want to say that I did not do this by myself. I have all of you – all of you my colleagues and my kids,” Lujan-Quiñones said through tears as she gestured toward her students. “You are my kids, and I did not do this by myself, so I want to thank all of you.”

Coincidentally, she found out the same week that the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education was honoring her with its Henry W. Pascual Teacher Excellence Award.

Lujan-Quiñones has been teaching for more than a decade and has spent her entire career at Dolores Gonzales. She goes out of her way to enrich the lives of her students, spearheading or playing a key role in the school’s guitar club, theater club and Folklorico dance club and regularly taking her Folklorico group to perform at Cinco de Mayo celebrations. She’s also a Teacher Leader Facilitator, which means she works with teachers on professional development, often sacrificing her own prep time to do the work.

Stuit was pleased that the school was able to pull of the surprise.

“She had no idea,” the principal said.

Colleagues, on the other hand, were not at all surprised that Lujan-Quiñones was getting the award.

“We all knew she was going to get it because we all know how outstanding she is,” Stuit said.

The Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award is given to up to seven New Mexico teachers each year by the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico. Recipients are educators “who demonstrate classroom excellence, professional commitment, and a desire to elevate education in New Mexico.”

Honorees receive a professional development stipend, a Golden Apple trophy, and are featured by KRQE.

The Henry W. Pascual Teacher Excellence Award recognizes teachers whose dedication and practice resemble the spirit and vision for quality teaching that Pascual was known for. Pascual was the state education department’s first director of bilingual education.