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Announcing The Winners Of The 2019 Excellence In Teaching Awards

LANL Foundation


Escalante High School Counselor’s Secretary Felecia Martinez, 9th–12th grade math teacher and award winner Richard Amora, Principal Gregory Marez, School Counselor Anna Atencio, and School Secretary Cleo Valdez


Bringing Encouragement & Support to the Education Profession, Celebrating Outstanding Teachers in Rio Arriba County & Pojoaque School District


Teachers have the power to change lives, and the most passionate and dedicated teachers change many lives. Despite sometimes challenging circumstances, a lack of recognition and low pay, teachers give their all, personally and professionally year after year, frequently volunteering time and even their money to make certain their students have the support they need. The impact of educators often extends beyond the classroom as they mentor and inspire other teachers and take on leadership roles in their school and district. 

For the fourth year, the LANL Foundation and Centerra-Los Alamos, the Laboratory’s protective force contractor, have honored teachers who go above and beyond with the Excellence in Teaching Awards. The co-sponsoring organizations initiated the award in 2016 to bring encouragement and support to the education profession that faces high turnover, burnout and underfunding. A record, 33 teachers were nominated this year by current and former students, teachers, administrators and other colleagues. 

“We established this award with the LANL Foundation because there are many excellent teachers is this area who don’t get all the recognition they deserve,” said Lennie Upshaw, General Manager for Centerra-Los Alamos. “Teachers are such a critical part of our society, educating our students and preparing the future leaders of our community. We’re here to thank them.”

The 2019 winners of the Rio Arriba County & Pojoaque Excellence in Teaching Award are:

  • Richard Amora, 9th–12th grade math teacher at Escalante Middle-High School
  • Tobe Bott-Lyons, 12th grade Upward Bound teacher at Española Valley High School
  • Jolene Martin, 11th-12th grade English teacher at Pojoaque Valley High School
  • Hazel Linda Miller, bilingual education teacher at Tony E. Quintana Elementary School
  • Alicia Gonzales, 8th grade teacher at Pojoaque Valley Middle School
  • Danita Quintana, 6th grade teacher at Tony E. Quintana Elementary School
  • Danielle Seaboy, 8th grade English teacher at Pojoaque Valley Middle School

To be eligible, teachers must have taught at their current K–12 public, Tribal or charter school in Rio Arriba County or Pojoaque for at least three years. Each nominee’s impact on his or her school, students and community, leadership qualities, cultivation of positive culture and inspiration of lifelong learning in others are considered. Winners were announced during surprise assemblies at each school.

Invited community members and staff from both sponsoring organizations evaluated nominees and selected winners from information provided. The  selection committee included:

  • Michael Dabrieo, LANL Foundation Education Enrichment Director
  • Ida Duran, Centerra-Los Alamos Business Contract Manager
  • Jaap Gardner, LANL Foundation K-12 Projects Coordinator
  • Sarah Gissinger, LANL Foundation Scholarship Program Associate
  • Doris Rivera, LANL Foundation K-12 Professional Development Coordinator
  • Ben Sandoval, Española YMCA Teen Center Director
  • Ralph Martinez, community organizer
  • Graig Newell, Centerra-Los Alamos Director Business Management
  • Lennie Upshaw, Centerra-Los Alamos General Manager

Nominations for 2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards will be accepted after the start of the 2020-2021 school year. For additional information, please contact Doris Rivera at or 505-753-8890. 


About the Sponsors: 

Centerra – Los Alamos (CLA) is the LANL Protective Force Contractor. CLA consists of over 300 professionals, responsible for protecting some of our Nation’s most critical assets.

LANL Foundation works to inspire excellence in education and learning in Northern New Mexico through innovative programming, collaboration, and advocacy. By investing in learning and human potential, the Foundation’s vision is that all New Mexicans have the skills and confidence they need to be self-sufficient, lifelong learners who are engaged in their communities.