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Nominee taught at Farmington schools for 16 years

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FARMINGTON — A Farmington schools employee has been nominated for a national award for her involvement and participation with National History Day.

Erin Gockel, a high school instructional facilitator for the Farmington Municipal School District, is nominated for the Hannah E. (Liz) MacGregor Teacher of the Year History Teacher Award.

She has taught 16 years for Farmington schools at McKinley Elementary School, Tibbetts Middle School and Farmington High School.

In her new role, she works with teachers at the four high schools in the district by providing training and professional development.

"I love the idea of providing opportunities and I do love my job," Gockel said. "But I do miss being in the classroom and being able to provide those opportunities for learning in non-traditional ways."

Gockel along with several Farmington students who went to the National History Day state competition spoke to The Daily Times about their projects and the effect Gockel has left on them.  

The 57 National History Day affiliates each nominate a middle and high school teacher for the honor, which includes a $5,000 award.

Dayna Jones, a teacher at La Plata Middle School in Silver City, was the middle-school nominee, according to National History Day State Coordinator Ellen Dornan.

While not in a classroom anymore, Gockel continued to work on the program with students as she didn't believe she had another teacher immediately to take it over this year.

She has worked to make sure the program was offered to as many students as possible.

Farmington High senior Kianna Pete and Hermosa Middle School eighth-grade student Trey Jones are heading to the national competition in June in College Park, Maryland.

Pete described her project as a documentary focusing on the civil unrest in Farmington in 1974, using photographs of a riot where police threw tear gas at protesters.

"It pertains to the riots that happened downtown and the events of the American Indian Movement's influence around Farmington," Pete said.

Pete stated she has never met anyone else like Gockel and doubts she ever will.

"She is so invested in helping us. I've known her since seventh grade and she takes a deep priority and a deep passion for what she does," Pete said.

Jones' project focused on Leo Szilard, a man who had a "monumental" impact on the project to develop the atomic bomb.

He described Gockel as a helpful and great person.

"She has really given me a drive to learn more and dive into stuff I would have never done if she wasn't here for me," Jones said.

The national award is set to be presented on June 13.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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