The Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico awards up to seven teachers from around the state with the Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award each year. To highlight this year’s winners, each awarded teacher is coming onto the set of New Mexico Living to dive deep into what inspired their teaching journey.

One of 2023’s Golden Apple recipients is third-grade teacher Michelle Armijo. When Armijo was in high school, she was a peer mentor in a special education life skills class. “The children in that classroom changed my life, filled my heart, and that’s how I decided I wanted to be a teacher,” says Armijo.

As a teacher at Pinon Elementary in Santa Fe, Armijo takes an individual approach with her students. The third-grade teacher starts off each school day with a “morning circle” in which each student tells her how they are doing and what kind of help they need that day.

The Golden Apple awards rotate every three years through the three major school levels: elementary, middle, and high school. Teachers are recognized in a variety of subjects, including STEM subjects, physical education, special education, advanced placement courses, and more.