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Third APS Teacher Honored With Golden Apple Award

Posted April 13, 2023, 12:10 PM. Updated August 23, 2023, 2:31 PM.

John Baker Elementary music teacher Julie Rombach-Kendall praised for her teaching style.

For Julie Rombach-Kendall, being recognized as a Golden Apple teacher during a staff meeting on Wednesday afternoon couldn’t have come at a better time.

“The past couple of years have been really hard with the passing of my husband and then very recently the passing of my mom,” she said. “And It feels like a wonderful, positive thing to happen amongst all these trials that sort of helps lift me up out of the sadness.”

The award is given to educators “who demonstrate classroom excellence, professional commitment, and a desire to elevate education in New Mexico.”

Rombach-Kendall – affectionately called Mrs. R-K by students and colleagues alike — is a music teacher at John Baker Elementary School. The Golden Apple Foundation selection committee raved about her teaching style, praising her for her rapport with parents and students, her responsiveness, and her high expectations. They also noted that she is able to meet students where they are and find ways for all of them to shine.

“She teaches with her heart,” the committee wrote. “Teaching feeds her soul. She loves her craft.”

Rombach-Kendall earned bachelor of music degrees in voice performance and music education from the University of Michigan and a master of music degree in voice performance from the University of New Mexico. She provides instruction on everything from singing and playing instruments to creating, reading, and writing music. She uses games and activities to teach many of the concepts and, at times has even used Mary Flora, her puppet, to get lessons across to students.

Thunderous applause broke out as Rombach-Kendall made her way through the school library for the award announcement on Wednesday. Her son was on hand for the celebration, which also featured gold, copper, and white balloons.

“I really believe this award is for all of us,” Rombach-Kendall told her colleagues, noting that she has grown as a person and as a teacher because of her coworkers at John Baker.

“It’s really wonderful to be recognized for over 30 years of teaching and such a blessing to be in one place long enough that I feel like I could really flourish and be as good a servant as I possibly could be as a teacher,” she said.

She also thanked her colleagues and students for helping her through a difficult time.

“When my husband passed, you guys and the students just kept me going, kept me happy, kept me out of the abyss that I could have fallen into, and I am so eternally grateful for that,” she said. “That is a community uplifting that can only happen with amazing people like you guys. Thank you, John Baker.”

Seven New Mexico elementary teachers are receiving the Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award this year, including two other APS teachers: Lavaland fifth-grade teacher Shannon Ryan and Dolores Gonzales Elementary dance teacher Norma Lujan-Quiñones.

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