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.

Michelle Sanchez, a fifth-grade teacher at Pojoaque Valley Intermediate School, is one of 2023’s Golden Apple award winners. Sanchez says that growing up, everyone told her she would one day become a teacher; however, she did not agree. “I’m the type of person that if you tell me I’m going to do something, I won’t do it,” says Sanchez.

Sanchez says she tried out almost every different major when she went to college. She decided to pursue classes in things that she genuinely enjoyed, and that eventually led her to education classes. In a full circle moment, she realized that her calling was what everyone had always told her: she would become a teacher.

Sanchez centers her classroom around inquiry-based learning. The award-winning teacher presents her students with a problem and asks them how they are going to solve it. She says that giving her students this chance to figure out solutions on their own allows what they already know to shine through.

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.