Elisabeth Valenzuela Coordinates New Regional School Partnership

Elisabeth Valenzuela

Las Vegas, N.M. – Elisabeth Valenzuela is the first coordinator for the Regional School Partnership, a collaboration among Pojoaque Valley Public Schools, Los Alamos National Laboratory and New Mexico Highlands University that aims to support improved teaching and learning.

The innovative partnership, launched in October 2018, is the first of its kind in New Mexico to combine a school district, a major employer and a university teacher education program. It focuses on increasing success for youth in grades 4 through 8.

“The clinical
residency program is the most exciting element of this new partnership,”
Valenzuela said. “Pre-service teachers who are students in the Highlands School
of Education will spend their junior and senior years working three days a week
co-teaching a classroom in Pojoaque schools. These college students will work
under the mentorship of a highlyqualified teacher.”

Valenzuela said
Los Alamos National Laboratory has a history of working with Northern New
Mexico school districts to improve teaching and learning.

“Through LANL’s
Math and Science Academy, three math and science experts will work on site at
Pojoaque schools to support the teachers in training, professional teachers and
administrators in grades 4 through 8,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela brings a wealth of educator experience to her new position, including teaching on the School of Education faculty at colleges like the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands. Earlier in her career, she was an elementary classroom teacher, bilingual coordinator and principal in Albuquerque Public Schools. In addition, she was a principal at Bernalillo Elementary School.

“Being familiar
with public education in New Mexico in kindergarten through college has given
me a strong foundation for this new position. I also had the opportunity to
work with the New Mexico Public Education Department,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela is
based at Pojoaque Middle School as the Highlands School of Education

“I will be
responsible for coordinating all elements of the clinical residency program.
I’ll be   supporting pre-service teachers to be certain
their coursework aligns with the work they’re doing in the classroom. They will
benefit from graduating with 2,000 hours of teaching experience rather than the
traditional 600 hours of student teaching,” Valenzuela said.

The Regional Partnership School is also intended to be a model for
New Mexico educators and policy makers. The initiative is based upon a national
best-practice professional development school approach, where there is a
partnership between a school and an educator preparation program like the
Highlands School of Education.

“There’s a significant increase in academic achievement for
students over time in schools that use this professional development school
model. This is our goal for the Pojoaque schools,” Valenzuela said.  

Valenzuela earned her Ph.D. in language, literacy and
sociocultural studies at the University of New Mexico College of Education,
where she also completed her M.A. in elementary education with an emphasis in
bilingual education.

She is a frequent presenter at professional conferences such as
the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education and the National Association
of Multicultural Education.

Valenzuela’s research has appeared in publications like the
American Educational Research Association Journal.

In 2017, Valenzuela received the University of New Mexico Alumni
Zia Award.