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New America School team earns national honors

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National Charter Schools Week, May 9-13, was a great week for New America School-Las Cruces.

The school’s principal/superintendent, Margarita Porter, earned a 2022 Changemaker Award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS).

Lorynn Guerrero, an English language arts teacher at the school, was named a 2022 Teacher of the Year Award recipient by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Guerrero was one of just two teachers named nationwide, and a spokesperson for CCSSO said, “Each of these teachers represents a creative, tenacious passion for students and the teaching profession.”  

Porter’s Changemaker Award is one of only 10 given nationwide, and is designed to recognize educators who are making a positive difference at charter schools and in their larger community.

“We are thrilled to honor these incredible, innovative and caring individuals who do the hardest work: supporting, educating and leading their school community on the ground every day. These recipients are the heartbeat of the charter school movement,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

Two projects launched by New America School-Las Cruces were instrumental in Porter’s award: 1. A school childcare center to help young parents focus on their studies and 2. Holding school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and using the day for community service.

Here’s how NAPCS put it in a news release: “Last year, Margarita opened the school’s childcare center so students with children can continue their education and receive safe childcare. Although 100 percent of the school’s students qualify for support, Margarita provides opportunities for her students to give back. The school holds an annual drive to collect personal hygiene items for a local shelter and donates hundreds of items annually. New America School–Las Cruces is the only school in the area to attend school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which they have transformed into a day of organized service, a model that other area schools plan to replicate.”

“Our goal is that all students may be given every opportunity to achieve the American dream,” Porter said. “I am deeply thrilled and honored to have been selected as a 2022 changemaker.” 

In a time when the education system has wrestled with the effects of a pandemic, and when teachers’ worlds have been changed in many ways, Guerrero used the occasion of her award as a message for fellow teachers.

“Thank you, teachers!” Guerrero said. “Being a teacher is hard, but with anything that is difficult, we know it is worth it. We must continue to elevate the teaching profession and help one another. At the end of the day, be proud of what you are building up in your students and in your classrooms.”