LOVINGTON – Christopher N. Ruszkowski, N.M. Secretary of Education, two elementary schools in Lovington Friday afternoon, celebrating the “A” grade they were awarded as a result of their scores on the state’s school grading system.
Llano Elementary, which houses preschool and kindergarten students has received an “A” for each of the last three years. Teachers at each of the schools, a few parents, two school board members and the superintendent of Lovington schools attended both ceremonies. Each school accepted a banner proclaiming it as a “2017 A School.” The banner can displayed either outside each building or at a prominent place inside.
At Llano Ruszkowski asked teachers to explain why they believe their school has met with success that has eluded other schools.
The consensus of answers, which came from both pre-school and kindergarten teachers was teamwork.
“We all are helping each other. If one of us is better at something, we get that person to help the rest of us. And we focus on one goal, to educate the children,” said one teacher in the audience. Hilda Rios, who teaches dual language kindergartners, said that her team’s objective is to get their students “prepared and ready for first-grade. We work as a team.”
Another teacher emphasized every kid has a different ability and, “We work with each one of them to help them be ready for the next step.”
Llano principal Kim Crowley said she believes having the pre-K students and kindergarten students on the same campus is a plus for both students and teachers. Crowley, who is new in her position at Llano, said, “These students are changing exponentially and it’s important for teacher to see their progress. They have developmental needs as well as academic needs and this staff is aware of this.”
After the meeting at Llano, Ruszkowski, school board members Greg Maxie and Dymorie Maker and school superintendent LeAnne Gandy went across town to Lea Elementary, which also earned an “A” on the state’s grading system.
Visits to the two schools were part of a statewide tour, Ruszkowski said.
“There are 120 ‘A’ schools in 16 districts and charter schools,” he said. He did not have immediate access to information about how many charter schools earned the rating.
However, he said that 25 percent of the schools who earned that designation were schools that primarily served low income students.
“That’s proof that demographics are not destiny,” Ruszkowski said.
Ruszkowski said he spends a lot of time in the field, listening to parents.
“They primarily say three things,” Ruszkowski said. “Number one they ask us to keep giving them good information. Second, thy want us to reach out more to parents and students, and number three, they want choice in deciding about their children’s education.”
Among the choices Ruszkowski mention were the opportunity to take AP or dual credit classes, takes virtual courses or transfer to a different school if their kids were in a “failing school.”
At the conclusion of his visit to Lovington, Ruszkowski was scheduled to visit Eunice, where Governor Susana Martinez attended the opening of the new football stadium.