01 Nov

Honoring Our Teachers

Did you know that teachers in the State of New Mexico, who start out at Level I, are required to submit a Professional Development Dossier (PDD) at the end of 3-5 years of successful teaching in order to advance to Level II? They don’t have a choice, and yet they must pay for it themselves! Teachers may also choose to seek Level III licensure by submitting an additional PDD after their third year of successful teaching at Level II. Again, they pay for it.

It’s actually quite a lot of work for teachers to prepare these dossiers, so that they can be considered for advancement to the next level. The teacher must compile classroom data (lesson descriptions, handouts, student work, video and audio recordings, photos) with explanations of that data written by the teacher, and accompany it with verification and recommendation by the district superintendent.

The LAPS Foundation recognizes this hard work and sacrifice made by our district teachers, and shows its respect and appreciation for these teachers by reimbursing them for their out-of-pocket expense to procure the advancement. This typically takes place at a School Board meeting at which the teachers are recognized.

This fall, two Los Alamos teachers successfully advanced to Level II: Eric Beckstead and Ted Atkins. Congratulations to them both!

Three cheers for our teachers and all their hard work and dedication!

26 Oct

Thank You for Making Taste of Knowledge a Huge Success!

Once again, Los Alamos came out to support public education at this year’s Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation’s annual fundraiser, A Taste of Knowledge. Thanks to the generosity of many individuals and businesses, the Foundation was able to raise $42,000 for Los Alamos Public Schools. This additional funding will allow the LAPS Foundation to do even more to support teachers, staff, students and school facilities in the coming year. Members of the Board and staff of the LAPS Foundation wish to thank the many people who made the event such a success.
Laura Crucet and her team at Pig + Fig were wonderful to work with. They prepared an amazing assortment of South American dishes, donating both time and resources to make the fundraiser such a success.

Karen Easton worked with Kokoman Fine Wine & Liquor to pick the wines that perfectly paired with the food. Easton also donated her time to serve at the event, along with other volunteer servers Jean Harris, Tony Fox, Dane Spearing and Crucet.

Becca Jones and her LAHS culinary students lent their expertise to assist Pig +Fig with the food preparation. Members of the LAHS Key Club selflessly donated their time to assist with a number of tasks during the evening.

Local guitarist Marcos Cavalcante provided beautiful guitar pieces to accompany the wine and food tasting. Talented tango dancers Jessica Fry and Joseph Cowan delighted the attendees with a tango performance and for the more adventurous, some instruction on how to do the dance.

Many businesses and individuals generously contributed monetary or in-kind donations to the event. They are: Bennett’s Fine Jewelry, Blue Window Bistro, Buffalo Thunder Resort, CB Fox, Century Bank, Chamisa Elementary School, Chris & Helen Ortega, Classic Air Medical, Coca Cola Bottling Company of Santa Fe, Cottonwood on the Green, Don Taylor’s Photography, EXIT Realty Advantage, Friends of Bandelier, Jill Cook, the family of Alex Kirk, Kokoman Fine Wine & Liquor, LA Canvas Events, LA Daily Post, LAPS Athletics, Mary Beth Maassen, Origami, Pajarito Mountain, PEEC, Petree Garden Center & Florist, Pig + Fig Café, Reel Deal Theater, Rotary Club of Los Alamos, Richard Swenson, Ruby K’s, Ryan Finn Quartet, Susan Roach, Suzy Kroesche, Vintage Hair Co., Windgate Healing Arts, and Zia Credit Union.

07 Sep

Now Accepting Grant Applications

 It’s that time of year again – the weather is starting to change, the PSL is on the menu at Starbucks, and the LAPS Foundation is now accepting fall grant applications from LAPS teachers! All applications may be filled out online at https://lapsfoundation.com/educators/apply-for-a-grant/
The three types of grants available are:
  • Great Ideas – These grants support teachers who have ideas for enriching the curriculum or providing students with unique learning experiences. It enables the purchase of special materials or resources for the classroom which are not typically available through the schools’ budgets.
  • Professional Development – These grants give educators the opportunity to advance their skills and knowledge by paying for conferences, seminars and training.
  • Professional Book Groups Grants – These book groups allow educators to examine instructional techniques with the goal of implementing new or refined practices in their classrooms and/or broadening their pedagogical knowledge. The grants cover the cost of the books for all participants.
The deadline to apply for the 3 types of grants listed above is September 28, 2018. The Mini Grants application period will remain open until the $1,000 allotment for fall has been reached. Another $1,000 will become available for mini grants in the spring semester.
We have worked hard to simplify the applications and update the grant guidelines, so we encourage teachers to read through everything before applying. Looking forward to receiving those grant applications!
17 Aug

It’s Time To Tango!

Our biggest fundraiser, Taste of Knowledge, is coming up on September 30, and the theme this year is “A South American Food and Wine Exploration”. We have partnered once again with Pig+Fig to bring you an amazing evening of food, wine, entertainment (tango, anyone?) and more, all while supporting Los Alamos teachers, students and schools. There are fewer tickets for sale this year, and last year the event sold out, so be sure to get your tickets soon!

Purchase tickets online at tok2018.eventbrite.com

Menu (subject to change):

First Station
“Campechana”
lump crabmeat, sweet shrimp, smoked peppers + creamy avocado

Second Station
“Platanitos”
Fried plantain chips + parsley-garlic olive oil marinade

Third Station
“Black Bean Shooters”
Creamy bisque of black beans, roasted poblanos + cotija cheese

Fourth Station
“Chimichurri”
Grilled and marinated angus tenderloin + toasted baguette slices

Fifth Station
“Empanadas”
Roasted vegetable empanadas

Sixth Station
“Pastelitos”
Guava + cream cheese turnovers

Seventh Station
“Chocolate Bark”
Guanaja chocolate mixed with toasted almonds

Eighth Station
“Picada”
assorted meats + cheeses

Hand-selected South American wine pairings will accompany each food station.

08 Aug

Fairy Godmother to Los Alamos Public Schools

We were recently referred to as the Fairy Godmother to the Los Alamos Public Schools, and the title stuck! Thanks to so many generous supporters, the LAPS Foundation is able to make dreams come true in our schools. We couldn’t do it without you.

How did we make an impact in the 2017-18 school year specifically? Well, we were able to invest nearly $100,000 into Los Alamos Public Schools into innovative programs, training for teachers, staff morale activities, scholarships and more. For the most recent school year this included:

  • Allowing 87 teachers to participate in professional book groups
  • Sending 17 teachers to attend national conferences and seminars
  • Enabling Great Ideas Grants submitted by teachers impacting roughly 7,325 students
  • Supporting morale boosting initiatives reaching countless LAPS staff and students
  • Presenting 21 scholarships to graduating LAHS seniors

Let’s make 2018-19 another great school year!

Pinon teachers participate in a book groupAspen’s new school-wide resourceA LAHS student uses new math software
23 May

LAHS Yearbooks Site to Launch Soon!

LAHS alumni have asked us to make their yearbooks available online, and we have heard the call. With funds donated by individuals and LAHS classes, we are planning the launch a new section of our website soon that will include every LAHS yearbook from 1949 through 2017. Not only that, but it will feature a database of senior photos to take the place of the ones that used to hang in “Senior Lobby”. The site will also have a mechanism for alumni to comment and post. Our plan is to continue adding future yearbooks to the site, not to replace printed yearbooks, but to augment the yearbook experience for alumni.

We’re excited that this will be one more benefit that we can offer to alumni! Others include tours of the renovated high school during class reunions and Hilltopper Alumni t-shirts, which are on sale at CB Fox. If you are a member of the LAHS alumni and you would like to be notified when the yearbook site launches, please like our Facebook page and/or sign up our alumni newsletter at lapsfoundation.com/alumni.

06 Apr

Great Ideas Abound at LA Schools

Every fall and spring, we accept applications from teachers for 3 types of grants: Professional Development, Professional Book Groups, and Great Ideas. It’s the latter that really showcases the innovative ideas that teachers have for their students, and it is our job to try to make those ideas a reality. Last fall, we were able to fund 8 great ideas grants at 5 schools.

Chamisa 5th graders hold up copies of the book WonderOne of last fall’s Great Ideas Grants gave copies of the book Wonder to every 5th grade student at Chamisa Elementary School. The book is about a boy named Auggie who was born with a facial deformity and how his peers initially perceive him. Ultimately he makes new friends and accepts himself for who he is. In the process, Auggie teaches all of us how to be better people. It’s a truly inspiring story that fits perfectly with Chamisa’s theme this year of “Mindfulness”, and the students were excited to read it. They also had the chance to watch the movie based on the book at the Reel Deal Theater.

At LAHS, math students benefited from an interactive program called IXL that helps to bridge the gap in students’ learning. The teachers are able to see in real timeA LAHS math student uses IXL which students are making progress and which students are struggling. Because of this, they can immediately help students who are stuck, they can assign material that will help students “fill the gaps” in their understanding, and they can access many different reports that show how the students are performing individually as well as collectively.

Shelley Morey-Sloan displays Aspen's “Empathy Tool Box for Teachers”Shelley Morey-Sloan, a teacher at Aspen elementary school, applied for and was awarded a Great Ideas Grant last fall to build an “Empathy Tool Box for Teachers”. Shelly meets some students who are brilliant but suffer from emotional problems that limit their happiness. Knowing that empathy can be learned, Shelly requested funds to create the toolbox. Shelly filled it with two professional books on the importance of teaching empathy, as well as 18 children’s books that have a focus on empathetic themes. Now Aspen teachers can check out books from the box to be read during classroom “read aloud” times.

Other Great Ideas Grants in fall 2017 included copies of the book Spies of the American Revolution for an interdisciplinary lesson at LAMS, a voter response system at Aspen Elementary, a classroom library for a Barranca Elementary 1st grade classroom, an artist in residence at Chamisa Elementary, and a computer program used to conduct quizzes and tests at LAHS.

31 Mar

New Teacher Advisory Board a Success

An important part of our Strategic Plan is to continuously solicit feedback from educators, to ensure our support remains relevant. This year we started a Teacher Advisory Board to do just that. Three times a year we invite one teacher from each school to join us for dinner and discussion. This has proven to be a great way for the Foundation to receive feedback from teachers at all schools about what they need in order to provide excellent education in our schools. This feedback allows us to stay relevant in our support for teachers, staff, students and school facilities. It also gives us an opportunity to say thank you to our teachers and let them know that they are heard and appreciated.

At the beginning of the school year, each school was asked to provide several names of teachers to serve on the advisory board. In some cases teachers were nominated by the principal, in others they volunteered. Either way, we wanted the teachers to feel like it is an honor to serve on this board. The LAPS Foundation arranges the meetings over dinner at a local restaurant, and it buys dinner for all the teachers who attend. An additional and unexpected benefit has been that the LAPS Foundation can support local businesses in the community, as we rotate restaurants each time to spread around our business.
The response so far from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive. We have heard multiple times that they appreciate being recognized, thanked and especially heard. With the ratio of teachers to LAPS Foundation board members at roughly 2:1, we are really able to give our full attention to the teachers and take in their valuable feedback.
So far we have had two such dinners. The third will take place in early May. With the feedback we have received from the teachers, our board will adjust the ways in which the LAPS Foundation supports our schools. We look forward to continuing this program again in the next school year!
31 Jan

Now Accepting Grant Applications!

LAPS teachers, do you have a great idea to enrich your curriculum or provide students with unique learning experiences?  Or perhaps you’re interested in attending a conference or holding a book club to enhance your professional development? The LAPS Foundation is now accepting applications through February 28, 2018 for our spring grant cycle. There are 3 types of grants for which you can apply:

  1. Great Ideas Grants. Apply for a Great Ideas Grant from the LAPS Foundation to fund the materials and/or resources to support an idea you would like to implement with your students. We are interested in funding innovative ideas that augment the basic curriculum and align with the Common Core Standards. Please refrain from submitting requests for materials that are typically purchased through the school district or for additional funds for an initiative that is currently being funded. We’re looking to fund your fresh, innovative ideas! These requests may not exceed $1,000. Application
  2. Professional Development Grants. Is there a conference or training that would help you enhance your teaching capabilities? Often times schools do not have sufficient funds to cover these important programs, and that is where the LAPS Foundation can help. We want to invest in developing you as a professional and ensure you can take advantage of these important opportunities! Application
  3. Professional Book Group Grants. Have you come across a book that is of interest to your colleagues and yourself that would allow you to gain new ideas and/or broadening your pedagogical knowledge? The LAPS Foundation funds professional books groups on a variety of topics. Each member of your group will receive a book, and you can request funding for refreshments at book group meetings, too. Application

The deadline to apply for the Spring 2018 grant cycle is February 28, so be sure to apply soon!

26 Jan

How to Support? Let us Count the Ways.

It’s easy to invest in education in Los Alamos. Besides donating online or mailing a check to the LAPS Foundation at 1900 Diamond Dr. Suite 1, Los Alamos, NM 87544, did you know that you can support the LAPS Foundation every time you shop at Smith’s?

Simply link your Smith’s rewards card to the LAPS Foundation. Here’s how:

  1. Sign in to your account at smithsfoodanddrug.com
  2. Under “Welcome” at the top right, click on “My Account”
  3. Click Edit under “Inspiring Donations” (last section)
  4. Enter Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation or organization number KV130
  5. Click Enroll

Voila! Now every time you shop at Smith’s a portion will be donated to the LAPS Foundation!

Support for the LAPS Foundation allows us to:

  • Send teachers to conferences and seminars
  • Pay for classroom makeovers and updates
  • Provide materials and resources for innovation in classrooms
  • Sponsor morale activities for LAPS staff
  • Award scholarships to students
  • Encourage STEAM in the schools
  • Build outdoor classrooms at each school
  • And much more!

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