Pojoaque Elementary School first-grade teacher Cheri Romero (middle, front row) was presented with a plaque after being named Teacher of the Year by the Pojoaque Valley Schools Educational Foundation at a Pojoaque Valley Schools Board meeting July 25 at Pojoaque. Romero was chosen from three nominees that included Mrs. Jolene Martin (front row, left) and Mrs. Susan Randolph-Quintana. Also pictured are: Pojoaque School Board member Sharon Dogruel (back, left), Pojoaque Valley Schools Educational Foundation President David Ortiz, School Board President John Paul Romero, School Board Vice-President Jeffrey Atencio, Pojoaque Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. Mel Morgan, School Board member Toby Velasquez.
Pojoaque’s Teacher of the Year
It was as a first-grade student at McCurdy Mission School that Cheri Romero had the inspiration ignited within her that led to a career in education. Now a first-grade teacher at Pojoaque Elementary School, Romero remembers that she was struggling with reading.
“I was having a difficult time learning to read and lacked self-esteem,” Romero said. “My teacher, Mrs. Bernice Coriz, tutored me in the summer. She was so patient. She saw ways to bring up my self-confidence. She motivated me not to be afraid and gave me courage. She was key in why I became a teacher.”
That led to a 20-year career in education.
“Her (Coriz) words always come to mind,” Romero said. “She did that for the whole class and did it in a way that felt personal.”
Romero’s dedication to teaching students how to read has led to her receiving the honor as Teacher of the Year presented by the Pojoaque Valley Schools Educational Foundation at a Pojoaque Valley School Board meeting July 25 at Pojoaque. Chosen from among three worthy candidates, Romero received a plaque and a check for $1,000 from the Foundation.
Pojoaque Elementary School first-grade teacher Cheri Romero shares a light-hearted moment with Pojoaque Valley School Board President John Paul Romero (middle) and Pojoaque Valley School Educational Foundation President David Ortiz (left). Cheri Romero holds a plaque and a checkfor $1,000 that she received after being named Teacher of the Year at a School Board meeting July 25 at Pojoaque.
“I was thrilled just to be nominated,” Romero said. “It was a shock.”
It was the first Teacher of the Year Award given by the Foundation, which was formed earlier this spring. The other nominees, Mrs Susan Randolph-Quintana and Mrs Jolene Martin, also received plaques.
“It was a difficult decision,” David Ortiz, president of the Foundation said. “They were all very good nominees. The foundation was formed at the beginning of the year. We seek donations from the community. Our goal is to promote teaching and learning in the district.”
The Foundation was the brainchild of Pojoaque Valley Schools Superintendent Dr. Melville (Mel) Morgan. By law, the District and the School Board are limited in the honors they can bestow. Pojoaque has had an in-house Teacher of the Year award every year, but that lacked the recognition that comes with being recognized as one of the top educators by the State Public Education Department.
“If you establish a Foundation, you can do many, many things for many, many people,” Morgan said. “(Romero) will now be a candidate for State Teacher of the Year representing Pojoaque. She will receive all of the wonderful things that come with recognition.”
In addition to honoring Romero, the Foundation also awarded two $1,500 scholarships to Pojoaque students that were presented during Pojoaque’s 2018 graduation ceremonies. The Foundation would also like to inaugurate a District Employee of the Year Award.
Romero said that she has spent 17 years in the classroom. It has not dampened her enthusiasm for her job and the satisfaction she finds teaching young students how to read.
“I love teaching students how to read,” Romero said. “It’s a skill that they will need throughout their entire life. I want them to have a love of literature.”
Watching her students experience the excitement that comes with learning is among the most rewarding experiences that being a teacher provides for Romero.
“This is the best job in the world to make those connections with people,” Romero said. “Watching students develop and grow in confidence. Realize they are capable of doing different things. To see them glowing and excited as they make that rite of passage to their own independence. It is just so rewarding. It makes me want to do that for the rest of my life.”vv