Farmington teacher receives Golden Apple award

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON — A Farmington High School teacher has been recognized with a prestigious state teaching award.

Stephanie Jaquez teaches an English grammar class on Thursday at Farmington High School. Jaquez has been named a winner of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

English and language arts teacher Stephanie Jaquez is one of seven teachers selected for this year’s Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, according to a press release from the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico, which presents the awards.

Jaquez was selected alongside teachers from Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe for the 22nd class of fellows. There were 107 nominations for the award this year, according to the press release.

“It’s an honor to be in this position,” Jaquez said.

The most recent Golden Apple winner in San Juan County was James Olivas in 2013, who taught at Naabi Ani Elementary. He currently works as a data and assessment coordinator for the Bloomfield School District, according to the district's website.

Jaquez has been a teacher with Farmington schools for nearly 22 years. She spent 10 years working at Tibbetts Middle School and is in her 12th year at Farmington High.

Stephanie Jaquez teaches an English grammar class on Thursday at Farmington High School. Jaquez is one of seven teachers who won the 2017 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

She is the head coach for the girls golf team and serves as the school's English department chairwoman. She also is a member of the New Mexico Reading Association.

FHS Principal Tim Kienitz said the award could not have been presented to a better person. He said Jaquez has been involved in mentoring other teachers at the high school and has a great relationship with her students.

“She has high expectations for her students, but she balances that with a strong relationship and care for her kids,” Kienitz said.

As part of the application process, Jaquez was required to write an eight- to 10-page “reflection” report. It took her several months to finish the report, but she submitted it the week before it was due. Jaquez was asked to review her teaching philosophy and methodology, along with her classroom practices.

Jaquez said writing the paper helped her reflect on how her own teaching style compares to how she was taught by her teachers when she attended Farmington High.

She described her teaching style as engaging students in formal discussion and providing students with an opportunity to learn from each other.

She was one of 16 finalists for the award.

The biggest surprise for Jaquez was receiving feedback from students, teachers and parents about her teaching style.

A team of three people representing the foundation spent a day at FHS, interviewing members of the community and observing Jaquez in the classroom. As the team members prepared to leave, they shared with Jaquez what the people they spoke to said about her.

“My heart swelled so much, I swear to gosh, I was going to have a heart attack,” Jaquez said.

She said it was really profound to hear about the impact she has had on the lives of her students.

The award includes $4,000 to be used for professional development.

Jaquez is thinking about using the money to seek National Board Certification — a professional certification available in 25 areas that reflects best practices in teaching — or a college degree in school administration.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.