Updated: Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010, 5:34 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010, 5:34 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Jennifer Chavez-Miller teaches fourth grade at Mountain Mahogany Community School, a charter school in Albuquerque’s North Valley.
The selection team visiting Chavez-Miller noted her exceptional strength in developing curriculum that ties to New Mexico’s achievement standards, a strength that has earned her the role of Curriculum Coordinator. In that role, Chavez-Miller works to ensure that the curriculum preserves "the integrity of our child-centered approach to education.” In her application for the award, Chavez-Miller described a unique approach she is using to help students appreciate their differences.
She wore a backpack one day to pique their curiosity, unpacking it at the end of the day to show all the characteristics she “carries” with her all the time, characteristics of life history and identity like race, family structure, religion and the like. Students then prepared their own backpacks as a way of describing themselves to their classmates.
“There have been countless instances when I knew that my students were making a difference in my life, and as a teacher, I have to believe that I’m making a difference in their lives, too," said Chavez-Miller. "Every day, the children and I sing in the classroom, we sing in the orchard, and we sing on the playground. Last fall, we had the opportunity to sing at an education conference. We made our way towards the Grand Ballroom in the Convention Center, and when we entered, the children were giddy with the grandeur and the capacity of the room. The children were served lunch – oh, they were thrilled by the china and the beautiful meal – before they stood across the stage to sing. They were confident and joyous. Before we headed back to school, we made a stop at the Bosque for a rendezvous with nature. It was there, on the banks of the Rio Grande, that I knew I was doing something worthwhile. From the ballroom to the Bosque, the children reveled in being children. There was wonder and joy. There was confidence and curiosity. They used their voices to sing of peace and to shout with enthusiasm. That day, I knew I was providing the children with what they need – rich opportunities to flourish.”