ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – First-year teachers in New Mexico are getting a helping hand in the classroom this fall, all in honor of a teacher who lost his battle with cancer. Mitch Mulcahy was a student at Taft Middle School, then taught there for 21 years. He often recognized the struggles first-year teachers go through and his family thought that would be the perfect way to honor his memory.
“Mitch was a very amazing person,” said Deanna Sanchez-Mulcahy, Mitch’s wife. “He was a musician, he played the drums and was also a teacher at Taft Middle School for 21 years.”
In his two decades at the school, Mulcahy often recognized the struggles first-year teachers go through, even remembering his own experience.
“He really enjoyed teaching though there were many times or years that were very challenging. He often mentioned, actually, at the beginning of his career that he felt almost as if he had his formal education and then they gave him his classroom and they left him,” said Sanchez-Mulcahy. “He felt a little abandoned and could have used some help setting up his classroom and even some mentoring.”
In September 2018, Mulcahy lost his battle with metastatic melanoma. To honor his memory, his family through recognizing those first-year teachers seemed like the perfect place to start.
They created the Teachers Rock Fund to provide them support. This is the first year for the fund. The family hopes to keep it going for years to come.
“We want to encourage first-year teachers to simply submit a 500 word or less essay, doesn’t have to be that long, explaining how this might help them establish their classrooms,” said Sanchez-Mulcahy. “This year we will be awarding two $500 stipends and we hope to continue that each year during the summer to give them time to set up their classrooms.”
Sanchez-Mulcahy hopes to honor her husband’s legacy, doing something he would have wanted to do.
“I know first-year teachers could really use all the support they can get and we’d like to be a part of that to honor my husband,” said Sanchez-Mulcahy. “I think Mitch would be very humbled by the efforts and the recognition.”
The family says Taft Middle School has also made changes honoring Mulcahy, including a small park with messages from students to the late teacher, tied to trees.
“Celina Esquibel really spearheaded the efforts at the school,” said Sanchez-Mulcahy. “At the end of the school year, they established a small park for him next to the school bus stop.”
The family plans to select the recipients by Aug. 1. There’s still time for first year teachers to apply online.