Santa Fe Public Schools got a statewide shout-out Monday when the nonprofit Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico announced a rare honor: Three of the district’s teachers have been named winners of the 2020 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Shantel Dixon and Carman Moon, who both teach English at Capital High School, and Richard Pitman, who teaches honors biology and Advanced Placement Biology at Santa Fe High School, were among seven winners from across the state. While a Santa Fe teacher often is selected for one of the seven awards each year, it’s unusual for the district to see three honorees in a single year.
“To bring home three of these seven awards is absolutely outstanding and demonstrates the quality of educators we have in Santa Fe Public Schools,” Superintendent Veronica García said in a statement Monday. “These educators exemplify true commitment to providing the highest caliber education to our students.”
The three teachers, along with Capital High AP English Language and AP Composition teacher Jack Clack, were among 16 finalists named last month.
Dixon, a Capital High graduate who returned to teach at the school in the fall of 2015 after obtaining an education degree from New Mexico State University, said in an interview Monday, “At first I read the email wrong. I thought I wasn’t a winner and was like, ‘OK, well, there are a lot of good teachers out there.’
“But once I reread everything,” she added, “I was just so happy for our district. It shows we have some really amazing people dedicated to being teachers in our schools.”
Moon, who teaches sophomore honors English at Capital, taught for a dozen years in Gallup before relocating to Santa Fe five years ago.
Pitman, a 17-year veteran teacher at Santa Fe High, has been leading recycling initiatives within the district since he was hired.
The other four Golden Apple Award winners are Hope Montoya-Encinias, who works at the Santa Fe-based online charter school New Mexico Connections Academy; Lesha Dawn Harenberg of Eldorado High School in Albuquerque; Elgenia Stark of Del Norte High School in Albuquerque; and David Ubinger of Chaparral High School in Gadsden.
They were chosen out of 88 New Mexico teachers nominated for the annual awards after a selection committee conducted classroom observations and interviews with principals, fellow teachers and parents.
The winners, who will be honored at event in April, will receive a stipend of $4,000 for professional development.
Dixon said she is thinking about using her funds to attend national conferences on teaching AP English classes.
Other local recipients of the Golden Apple Award in recent years:
• Brittany Behenna Griffith of the Nye Early Childhood Center in 2019.
• Laura Carthy of Capital High School in 2017.
• Roni Rohr of El Dorado Community School and Brenda Dominguez at the Amy Biehl Community School at Rancho Viejo in 2016.