SANTA FE – Two of the three finalists for the New Mexico Teacher of the Year 2022 come from Las Cruces.
The finalists were announced Thursday by New Mexico Public Education Secretary-designate Kurt Steinhaus. They are:
- Robbi Berry, fifth grade teacher at Monte Vista Elementary School in Las Cruces
- Lorynn Guerrero, English teacher and GRADS teacher at New America School, a charter high school in Las Cruces
- Stephanie Noll, English language teacher at Peñasco High School in Peñasco
NMPED announced in a press release that the Teacher of the Year program will begin in 1963. Each year, the state’s 89 school districts and state charter schools are invited to nominate outstanding teachers to represent New Mexico in the national Teacher of the Year competition.
Nominated State Teacher of the Year candidates complete an application and the selection of the final winner is based on both classroom performance and strength of the application, including letters of recommendation from their school communities. A selection committee, consisting of education officers from all over the country, narrowed down the applicants to the three finalists and it is now up to Steinhaus to make the final selection.
“What an incredible challenge and honor to choose New Mexico’s next teacher of the year. Each of these respected educators would represent our state with honors, but I can only name one. I have a difficult decision ahead of me, ”said Steinhaus.
Alisa Cooper de Uribe, a bilingual first grade teacher at NM International School in Albuquerque, is the New Mexico Teacher of the Year 2021.
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Berry has been teaching at Las Cruces Public Schools for 26 years – the last eight years. As a military wife, she also taught in New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. She was inspired to become an educator by a teacher who refused to accept that she was “not a mathematician” and worked with her until she got it.
Every year, Berry creates a family atmosphere in her classroom where she refers to her students – and their families – as the Berry Bunch.
“Her philosophy is that all students are capable of growth and that everyone deserves the best possible educational experience they can,” wrote Las Cruces Superintendent Ralph Ramos in his nomination letter.
Berry was named LCPS Teacher of the Year in May and recently made headlines for efforts to create an outdoor classroom.
Guerrero began her teaching career in Hatch in 2006, teaching both middle and high school students before moving to Las Cruces Public Schools in 2012, first at Organ Mountain High and now at New America School-Las Cruces.
Her father was an educator, and Guerrero always planned to follow him into the profession, but feared her dream would derail when she became a mother at the age of 17 and motivated her to do the GRADS program – along with a daycare center – to bring it to the New America School-Las Cruces in 2020.
“MS. Guerrero is an excellent teacher,” wrote Margarita Leza Porter, headmistress and headmistress, in her nomination letter. “Her increased rigor, setting high expectations and continuous reflection on her teaching set her apart from other educators.”
After graduating from English secondary school, Noll began her teaching career as a member of the Teach for America Corps and served at a Houston high school for five years. She was drawn to Teach for America because of its mission to provide educational excellence for every child.
“As someone who has been in public education for over 20 years, I see access to lifelong literacy courses as a justice issue that deserves more attention than it currently receives,” Noll wrote in her application.
Noll earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Texas State University in San Marcos in 2005. She taught there for 12 years before returning to the high school classroom, where she believes she can have the greatest and most direct impact on her students, their families, and their communities.