First-year teachers receive inaugural awards in honor of late Taft Middle School teacher

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – First-year teachers in New Mexico are getting a helping hand in the classroom this year, receiving $500 to help get the school supplies they need.

The family of Mitch Mulcahy, a Taft Middle School teacher who passed away from cancer last September, is honoring his memory with the Teachers Rock Fund. Now, two first-year teachers in the state plan to carry his legacy forward in their own classrooms.

“I hope just bringing in the simplistic kind of lifestyle that he believed in, and helping students no matter what happens outside the classroom, that this is a nice, warm simplistic kind of feeling in here,” said Alyssa Otero, a first-year teacher at West Mesa High School.

Otero is one of the first recipients of the fund. She says she’s inspired to make a change in the community.

“I kind of saw some of the negative things that were happening in Albuquerque and I just couldn’t sit at my office job anymore,” said Otero. “So I asked God, if this is a thing you want me to do, then just open up some doors for me.”

Every door has opened since. Otero happened upon the Teachers Rock Fund, a new award for first-year teachers. It’s dedicated to the memory of Mulcahy, who often mentioned his own struggles when starting his teaching career.

“I looked at it, did some research and looked up what Mitch was all about,” said Otero. “Then, I decided to do the essay.”

She was chosen as one of the first recipients after inspiring Mulcahy’s family with an essay about her desire to teach ninth-grade special education English and get age and reading level-appropriate books for her students.

“This helps me a lot because there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve had to put off, or I thought maybe throughout the year I could get when I get a paycheck,” said Otero. “But it’ll help me get some stuff for the classroom and have a nice room for the students to come back to.”

Mulcahy’s family and friends also selected Milan Elementary first-year teacher Amanda Savedra. Mulcahy’s wife, Deanna, says it’s the perfect way to honor his memory and she’s thankful for all who donated to the fund.

“It meant so much for us to be able to honor him in this way, as well as to help first-year teachers in New Mexico,” said Deanna Sanchez-Mulcahy. “With continued financial support, this will become an annual award, given to first-year teachers in New Mexico to help them set up their classrooms.”

As for Otero, she looks forward to her first year at West Mesa High, working with students. “I’m really looking forward to the different personalities that the students are going to bring in, just helping me help them,” said Otero.

Mulcahy’s family hopes to continue raising money for the fund. They say this year’s recipients have already offered to put on activities to fundraise.

“We’ve had the recipients actually offer to help continue with fundraising, car washes and so on,” said Sanchez-Mulcahy. “It is an amazing tribute to my husband and to all teachers because teachers absolutely deserve all the recognition that they get. What they do is difficult.”

The family has created a GoFundMe to help raise money for the Teachers Rock Fund. There is also a website with more information about Mulcahy and his life and legacy.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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