Sarracino teacher chosen to serve on PED council

........................................................................................................................................................................................

A Socorro teacher was chosen to serve on the 18-member New Mexico Teacher Evaluation Advisory Council.

Sarracino Middle School teacher Andrea Edmonson was picked by the New Mexico Public Education Department as one of only six teachers to sit on the council, which she believes will be mutually beneficial for students and educators alike.

“It’s very student focused, but it really goes down to student-teacher growth,” she said.

Too often Edmonson has seen children enter middle school with second and third grade reading levels, but more often than not they manage to make significant progress with the right instruction. She thinks that recognizing the progress that students make through the education process and the teachers that help them along the way is important. But it’s also necessary to lend a hand to those teachers that need it. That will be one of the purposes that drives the council.

“You want to acknowledge those teachers who are doing well,” she said. “On the other hand, we need to make sure we have support systems in place for teachers who aren’t doing so well. We make sure that there is documentation along the way, support systems and professional development in any deficiency they may have.”

According to an NMPED press release, the council was designed to identify excellent teachers, play a role in developing a new teacher and school leader evaluation system based on student achievement, and maintain the federally granted waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act.

In regard to understanding the needs of educators as well as understanding how to provide educators with the tools they need to successfully develop students, Edmonson is certainly qualified. She’s been on the teaching side of the business for the past five years, and she recently received her master’s degree in administration. Her ability to comprehend issues on both sides of the spectrum is just one of the reasons she was an ideal candidate for the position, among many others.

Edmonson is also a mother, and that is one of the reasons she chose to go into the field of education in the first place.

“I wanted to raise my kids, and I wanted to be a part of their life,” she said.

Education seemed to really fit that lifestyle for her, and not just because she and her children would be on the same daily schedule.

“Just learning about child development and child growth, and how the children learned; I took a huge interest in that as a parent,” she said. “It really helped create that path for me.”

Sarracino Middle School Dean of Students Gilbert Peralta is the one who personally submitted the application for recommendation to Secretary of Education Hannah Skandera on Edmonson’s behalf. He said he recognized her positive mental attitude, her ability to build trust and her dedication to the educational system would make her a perfect fit for the advisory council.

“I have known Andrea to be passionate at what she does,” Peralta said through an email. “Teaching young people is her true vocation in life, and her purpose is to make a difference in education.”

And making a concentrated and discernible difference in education in Socorro and throughout the state is something that has been long overdue.

New Mexico traditionally ranks in the low 40s in standardized test scores and math and science scores, all falling far below national averages. Sarracino Middle School was one of nine schools in the state served with School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds in the past couple of years, which were awarded to some of the most persistently lowest achieving schools in the state.

However, New Mexico is one of 19 states so far that has received a waiver from the NCLB Act, which will allow schools like SMS “more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandates in order to develop locally-tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges,” according to a May 29 www.ed.gov press release.

Sarracino Middle School, along with other schools in the state are now on an A through F grading system. According to Edmonson, the formula makes up a system of how teachers are evaluated and how schools are given their grade. The new grading system has parent and student input factored into the overall scores.

Through that new system, through the formation of programs, such as the New Mexico Teacher Evaluation Advisory Council and with help from sources, such as Skandera and Gov. Susanna Martinez, New Mexico will hopefully be able to improve its long-suffering quality of education. For people on the committee, such as Edmonson, that possibility is both exciting and integral.

“It’s just neat that we’re getting to be the frontrunner for it because being educators, I think it’s even more important that our voices are heard,” she said. “Education is changing. Education is going in a completely different direction.”

For New Mexico students, it looks like there’s finally some hope that direction is headed down a noticeably positive path, she said.

“The really cool thing is, for the first time in a long time, New Mexico is actually the leader in educational reform,” Edmonson said. “So this is exciting for us, to be setting that path for others to follow.”

Edmonson will serve a two-year term on the New Mexico Teacher Evaluation Advisory Council, which will hold it’s first official meeting next week in Albuquerque.