ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Like many educators, Lesha Harenberg took a roundabout path to teaching. She worked her way through the University of New Mexico and earned a degree in biology. Out of college, Harenberg worked in a lab, a veterinary clinic, and a bookstore. She was in her mid-twenties when she fell into teaching.

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For 23 years she’s taught biology, anatomy, and physiology at El Dorado High School. She’s been there for a massive shift in the way science is taught. “It used to just be all the kids need to memorize this, and they did for tests like the AP exam,” said Harenberg. “Now really it’s about how to get kids to think, how to get kids to analyze, how to get kids to look at the news.”

The most rewarding part for Harenberg goes well beyond the teaching. “I definitely have had kids who have come to me when they’ve been in crisis for various reasons. That’s when you know you’re doing your job right when a kid is comfortable with you. When you’re the person a kid comes to,” said Harenberg.

For Harenberg, the Golden Apple Award is not an easy fit. “I’m a little bit uncomfortable because truly, it’s not just me,” said Harenberg. “I work with lovely people and not just in the science department.”

In 2011, Harenberg and an administrator started a clothing bank at El Dorado. Today, El Dorado boasts about its toiletry, clothing, school supply and food banks.