Ladera Del Norte Elementary School students learned their school is now a National Blue Ribbon School during an assembly. Wochit

Winner to receive year-long paid sabbatical


FARMINGTON — An Apache Elementary School teacher nominated for a statewide teacher of the year award said she believes seeing the eyes of her students light up when they learn is an award in itself.

A group of state and Farmington district officials surprised the class of third grade teacher Nancy Brummell on the morning of Oct. 9, telling students she is one of three finalists for the 2019 New Mexico Teacher of the Year award.

Ryan Stewart, the New Mexico Secretary Designate of Public Education, presented Brummell with a certificate as her students were treated to donuts as a morning snack.

Stewart, on the job less than two months, was making his first trip to Farmington schools.

He had plans to tour Apache and Ladera Del Norte elementary schools.

Ladera was recently selected as one of three National Blue Ribbon Schools in the state.

He stated the visit provided an opportunity to talk with staff and learn what their needs are and celebrate their accomplishments.

Jessica Sanders, a teacher at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, is the 2019 winner of the award.

For Brummell, she said it felt amazing and she was very honored to be nominated.

She thanked all the staff at the elementary school, from custodian to principal, stating she would not have received the nomination without them.

"This award not only represents me, but all the hard work teachers put in every single day and the dedication they have," Brummell said.

She was selected as Farmington Municipal Schools Teacher of the Year, which put her into contention for the statewide award.

Brummell has been teaching at Apache elementary for her 33 years in education. She learned that her friends, colleagues and Principal Jennifer Bowles nominated her for the award.

Her favorite moments in the classroom are when her students start to understand a subject and she can see their eyes light up as they learn.

Her daughters and grandchildren attended the event and took photos with Brummell and Stewart.

"I think it's a real neat experience to celebrate her and her dedication," Bowles said.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced for the first time a NM Teacher of the Year winner will be provided a one-year paid sabbatical for the 2020 calendar year along with up to $10,000 toward professional development.

If she won, Brummell said she would spend her sabbatical focusing on finding additional programs to implement at Apache.

But the hardest part of the sabbatical would be not teaching students in a classroom.

"I thought about it and I really like to be in the classroom," Brummell said. "Leaving them mid-point would be hard, but it would be rewarding to come back with more knowledge to help them."

The state education department is expected to announce the other two finalists this week, according to a PED official.

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

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