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Posted: April 3, 2023

Lavaland Elementary Teacher Surprised With Golden Apple Award

Shannon Ryan one of seven New Mexico educators that will be honored by group.

Fifth Grade Lavaland Elementary Teacher Shannon Ryan is surrounded by students and APS officials Monday.

Fifth Grade Lavaland Elementary Teacher Shannon Ryan is surrounded by students and APS officials Monday.

It’s not every day that someone is surprised with the news that they’re being recognized as one of the top teachers in the state.

Then again, if you're Shannon Ryan, it’s not your first time, either.

Ryan, a fifth-grade teacher at Lavaland Elementary School, became emotional during a surprise event at the school on Monday morning where she was notified that she was receiving a Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award, an honor being bestowed on seven New Mexico teachers this year.

Among those on hand for the surprise announcement were Superintendent Scott Elder and a host of excited Lavaland students. She celebrated her accomplishment surrounded by her students.

“This award is so amazing to receive,” she said. “It’s not just my award. It’s my colleagues’ award; it’s my students’ award. And it just means so much that my students can be part of this.”

The award is given by the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico to educators “who demonstrate classroom excellence, professional commitment, and a desire to elevate education in New Mexico.” This year the foundation is honoring elementary school teachers, but it also recognizes high school and middle school teachers, on a rotating basis.

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

Ryan, who has been teaching for 20 years, is known for fostering high expectations and for doing whatever it takes to help her students meet them. She received a Milken Educator Award, sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching,” in 2015.

As for the Golden Apple Award, Ryan was visibly moved as students and colleagues cheered. She said seeing all of the love and support drives her to be better.

She also praised Lavaland, a school she’s spent her entire career at.

“This is where my heart is,” she said. “The teachers here really love and support the students. We try really hard to come up with innovative ways to help reach every student at our school.

“Things here are more unique than other schools because of our demographics,” Ryan added. “We have 98% below poverty that we service here at this school. We have students from all walks of life.” Ryan said she and her colleagues are focused on how they can reach each and every student every day “and make sure they know they’re loved, supported and encouraged and championed to go on to the next level.”