Farmington teacher honored in statewide competition recognizing excellence

Orchestra director and 15 others chosen from pool of more than 140 teachers

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Monica Leaming leads students in her orchestra class Sept. 27 at Tibbetts Middle School in Farmington.
  • Monica Leaming is the orchestra director at Farmington High School and Tibbetts Middle School.
  • Leaming and other finalists will be celebrated at a luncheon in Albuquerque in April.
  • Nominations already are being accepted for next year's competition.


FARMINGTON — Farmington teacher Monica Leaming was named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction this week.

Leaming, who teaches orchestra at both Farmington High School and Tibbets Middle School, was one of nine New Mexico teachers to earn the distinction and one of 16 finalists in the competition, according to a press release. 

The Teacher of Distinction award is part of the Golden Apple Awards program. It is given to teachers who made it through as finalists but were not chosen as one of seven Golden Apple Award recipients, according to a press release.

This year’s Golden Apple Award recipients are from Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Cimarron and Roswell public schools, and other Teachers of Distinction are from Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, and Rio Ranchos schools. 

The Golden Apple Awards program recognizes that “teaching excellence is the most important in-school factor in students’ academic success,” according to the press release. More than 140 teachers from 27 New Mexico communities were nominated in this year’s competition.

Nominated teachers go through a lengthy application process, and finalists are selected by the Golden Apple Award Foundation after classroom observations and interviews by school administrators, parents, students and former award winners.

Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction award winner Monica Leaming of Farmington will be honored during the Golden Apple Tribute to Teacher Excellence Luncheon in Albuquerque in April.


Teachers who win the Golden Apple Award are given a cash stipend and $4,000 for professional development, according to the press release.

Recipients of both the Golden Apple Award and the Teacher of Distinction award will be celebrated during the Golden Apple Tribute to Teacher Excellence Luncheon in Albuquerque in April.

The Golden Apple Award Foundation is accepting nominations for next year’s competition. More information is available at

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or