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LAS CRUCES - "We need people involved who understand where we’ve been and have a vision for where we need to go,” Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education candidate Teresa Tenorio said in a July 31 interview.
Tenorio, 40, announced she is running for the District 4 seat on the five-member school board that is currently held by Maury Castro.
The board’s district 4 and 5 seats are on the Nov. 5 combined ballot that will also include the mayor, three members of the Las Cruces City Council and presiding municipal judge, three members of the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors, LCPS’ Public School Buildings Act (HB33) three-mill levy and a $16 million Doña Ana Community College bond question.
Tenorio, 40, said she has been actively involved in public education since her oldest daughter, now 9, began school. Tenorio and her husband, Doña Ana County Commissioner Manny Sanchez, have three daughters, all of whom will attend East Picacho Elementary School later this month. With the youngest entering kindergarten, Tenorio said she wants to become more involved with education at the policy-making level, and that’s why she decided to run for school board. Board members serve four-year terms without term limits. The races are nonpartisan.
District 4 could “benefit from someone like myself who is energized to get out in the community and work with our families and our educators,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio has been a member of the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Student Success Task Force since it was created by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April to gather input from stakeholders around the state, identify priorities and find a statewide student testing protocol to replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) now in place.
Tenorio said she is passionate about moving LCPS and the state away from an over-emphasis on student testing and other “misguided reforms” enacted during the administration of former Gov. Susana Martinez.
“I’m not afraid to stand up and speak out as a parent against the former administration,” Tenorio said, but added that her focus as a school board member will be “not so much where we’re coming from as where we’re going.” As a board member, Tenorio said she will support best practices in education that are ‘what excites kids to learn, unites teaches and builds relationships in the community.”
Tenorio said she is a strong supporter of teachers and hopes to earn the endorsement of NEA-Las Cruces (the largest teachers union in Las Cruces) in her school board campaign.
“Las Cruces is especially fortunate to have the leadership we’ve had with the NEA,” she said, including people “who were willing to stick their neck out and speak up to defend students and teachers. I’m really proud of the work (NEA-LC) has done for our schools.” Teachers “took the brunt” of Martinez’s failed system of accountability performance measures,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio said she is excited about LCPS’ partnership with the City of Las Cruces to create community schools as well as its collaboration with Engage, ENLACE and other local nonprofits to provide students with “relevant, real-life issues.”
She also wants to work more with “really hard-working parents in our community” who have placed their trust in the school system. Educating students and preparing them for life after graduation “should be a shared accountability among us all,” she said.
“You never let your guard down,” she said. “You always have to push for what’s best for our kids. You have to advocate. Who else is going to do it?”
Tenorio grew up in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Both her parents were teachers.
I stand on the shoulders of my family,” she said. Her father was the oldest of 12 children and grew up in poverty, doing work as a migrant in Texas before becoming the first high school and college graduate in his family. “I appreciate where we came from and how far we’ve come,” she said.
Tenorio attended Cornell University for three years and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in university studies with an emphasis in social sciences, Spanish and Latino studies and New Mexico history. “I’m a life learner,” she said.
Tenorio has “worked directly with youth and community … on various education, health and leadership initiatives,” she said in a campaign news release, including working at the UNM Health Science Center in health promotion and disease prevention, the National Hispanic Youth Initiative and the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps; and the MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program.
Tenorio and Sanchez lived in Houston for three years before settling in Las Cruces’ north valley in 2011 to raise a family. She is a 2018 graduate of the Emerge program, which she described as “an intensive training program empowering women of New Mexico create change in their communities through elected representation.”
Tenorio coaches city league basketball and teaches catechism at Holy Cross Catholic Church. “I’m a parent,” she said, “a stakeholder in our community.”
Tenorio said she plans to go door-to-door in her District 4 campaign and will meet with officials and parent-teacher organization members of schools in the district.
For more information, visit teresa4lcps.com.
Mike Cook may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.