ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the state’s oldest schools is marking a big milestone for serving Albuquerque children. The San Felipe de Neri School is celebrating 140 years of teaching.
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The school serves students from pre-K through eighth grade, and over the years, they still see many of them coming back – either to teach or enroll their own kids. For kindergarten teacher Jennifer Finney, her experience at San Felipe de Neri School started when she was around the same age as many of the students she currently teaches.
“I grew up here near this area, near Old Town,” said Finney. “My family actually went to school here and I actually grew up across the street from the school, so we have lots of family history in this area.”
Now, she’s marking 15 years of teaching at the school, just as it celebrates 140 years of Catholic-based education in Old Town. Finney says former students still come back to visit.
“They still remember all the funny things we would say and do in class,” said Finney. “It makes me very proud that they even still remember their kindergarten teacher. It says a lot about the relationship we built with each other.”
San Felipe de Neri opened as one of the first public schools in Albuquerque back in 1881. The school says they continue to see former students return to school, and not just as teachers.
“In my current eighth grade, I have at least two or three whose parents I’ve taught,” said Richard Diaz. “It’s really nice to see the community continuing because we pride ourselves on being a generational school.”
Diaz and his wife have taught at the school for 30 years. When it comes to why the so-called “generational school” has survived over the years, he has his theories.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the historical nature of Old Town. We’re affiliated with San Felipe Church, obviously, and so the two go hand-in-hand,” said Diaz. “We also have many of our families who have a history in Old Town for many generations, so being that they brought their children here, they continue to provide our school with generations of kids.”
Finney agrees. She says the school’s roots in faith, family, and community are likely what’s kept it thriving all these years later. “I feel a lot of a warm community in this school and I think that’s what keeps me and the rest of the teachers coming to work here every year. It’s a nice family environment,” said Finney. “All those things uplift our students and make them better people and they make us better people,” adding, “it’s a school full of pride and a school full of love and all are welcome.”
The school will have an event this Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary, but it will be closed to the public. However, they also have a gala planned for February. Tickets go on sale next week. They’re asking alumni to register on their website to receive updates about future anniversary events.