The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Sue Fleming
Sue Fleming, longtime Placitas Elementary School teacher, bids a fond farewell to Bernalillo Public Schools.

Placitas Elementary teacher Sue Fleming retires after thirty-year career

Sue Fleming, a fourth-grade teacher at Placitas Elementary School, retired from her teaching career this year after thirty years in the education field.

After receiving her BA degree in English and elementary education from State University College in Brockport, New York, she moved to New Mexico, where she attended UNM and received her master’s in elementary education. Her first teaching job was the fourth grade at Navajo Elementary School, on the reservation in the Gallup-McKinley school district. After one year, she moved on to a position as a Chapter One Reading teacher at Santa Domingo, where she spent nine years. She then moved to PES, where she has been for the past twenty years, and has taught first, third, fourth, and fifth grade.

Growing up in New York, Ms. Fleming had always known that she wanted to be a teacher. She found herself “playing school” quite often as a child, and when she was old enough she took summer positions as a camp counselor and then as a teacher's assistant for the summer program at her high school.

Teaching fourth grade was her passion, and her favorite part about teaching was working with the kids and having fun with them. She enjoyed teaching both reading and math. And always fun-loving, she would never hesitate to join in the events on Field Day. Her favorite Field Day activity? Why, the Wet Sponge Toss, of course! Ms. Fleming felt very fortunate to be able to teach at PES, a relatively small school, where everyone knew each other and they all participated in things together.

Ms. Fleming will never forget her first year of teaching. She really went “outside the box” and grew a lot that year. Her fourth-grade class was to get tetanus shots, and as the teacher, she was the one who had to go first. Unbeknownst to her students, she was deathly afraid of shots, but as the teacher she had to overcome that and put on a very brave face! That was just the first of many learning and growing experiences for her through the years.

One of her favorite memories is doing the Crest Trail Challenge with her fourth-fifth combo class and Linda Hanna, a counselor/resource teacher at PES. The eleven-mile hike was challenging and fun for her as well as for her students. Going through something like that together is what learning is all about for Ms. Fleming.

She has such wonderful memories of all her students and she loves that a lot of them, some of whom are now in high school, college, or already in their professional careers, come back to visit her now and she can actually see how grown-up they are and that she had something to do with that!

After so many years of making a difference in so many lives, it's hard to believe Ms. Fleming is retiring. While she has no specific plans for the future, she does think she may get into volunteering with programs like Habitat for Humanity or maybe even working with premature babies at the UNMH neonatal unit.

For right now, though, she just wants to enjoy her summer and she would love to win the lottery and be able to travel the world. Whatever her future holds, you can bet that Ms. Fleming is not done making a difference!

Village Academy will open in Bernalillo

A second federal grant of $150,000 has been awarded to Village Academy Charter School. Also, the Bernalillo Public School Board approved Village Academy's new operating budget last month.
The new charter school, serving grades six through eight, will open this summer in leased facilities at property managed by the First Assembly of God Church in Bernalillo. Plans for a proposed building to house the school at a site next to Highway 165, east of I-25, fell through last month, during a county planning-and-zoning meeting. The Village Academy Facilities Committee is pursuing other options, however, to accommodate a growing charter-school student population. Student applications will continue to be accepted this summer until enrollment quotas are filled.

In the meantime, the governance council is preparing the recently leased facility to receive charter-school students and deliver instructional services at the beginning of the fall 2006 term. The two federal grants Village Academy received will be applied to help furnish and equip the school, as well as to purchase supplemental instructional materials, supplies, and instructional technology. Parents and volunteers are encouraged to work with the governance council and facilities committee to help set up operations at the new site.

Interviews are now being scheduled for charter-school positions. Village Academy will be hiring employees for the fall term, including a principal/head of school, New Mexico-licensed teachers, and administrative support and clerical staff. (Please see position descriptions posted on the charter school Web site,, at community locations, and in local media.) Resumes can be sent via e-mail or posted to: Village Academy Charter School, P. O. Box 1247, Placitas, NM 87043 or

Since the charter school was authorized in November 2004, an interim governance council has been the site-based decision-making and planning body. With the charter school now opening for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the interim council has been superseded by an operational governance council. The new slate of council members will be announced next month.

Public governance-council meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the community center at San Antonio Mission Church. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend the public meetings to obtain information and offer suggestions.

For further information regarding student enrollment, parent or volunteer participation, employment, and the Core Knowledge Curriculum, visit VACS' Web site,

Placitas Library has a new certified librarian

The library board and volunteers would like to congratulate Suanne Bryden on becoming a New Mexico State Library Certified Librarian. Passing this test involves many hours of study and considerable knowledge of library operations. Suanne is critical to the very core of this library. She not only staffs the library one or more days a week but she trains new volunteers and is the coordinator and primary processor of books as they enter our data base. Due to her efforts and those of her team, the library is now using our automation system (over six thousand titles have been entered). We plan to have our catalog on-line this fall.

Our second annual Birthday Bash was an outstanding success and great fun, even in the hundred-degree heat. The Howling Dog Dixieland Jazz Band set a marvelous tone, and Kangaroo Katie delighted young and old with her “Magical Tribute to Reading.” Special thanks go to the two families who adopted dogs from Placitas Animal Rescue.

Keep New Mexico Beautiful Foundation gave the library a grant to landscape the play yard. We are most grateful to them and to Gail DellaPelle, Judy Gajkowski, and John Flores for donated labor and expertise to install the plantings.

Inspired and coordinated by Bill Dunmire, several Placitas Library volunteers have been having a wonderful time reading to the children at Peanut Butter and Jelly Daycare in Bernalillo. Please call the library if you are interested in joining them or in reading at the library.

The summer reading program is off to an energetic start. We have over twenty children registered for the reading challenge (How many books can you read or have read to you this summer?). We are well on our way to the library's goal of three hundred—-thanks in large part to voracious readers Alexandra and James Hogan. You can still sign up anytime throughout the summer. Thursday mornings from 10:00 to11:30 we have a story-and-craft hour, geared to ages three to eight, but all children are welcome.

The library wish list includes a volunteer computer guru and someone with connections to a sign company. Call 867-3355 if you can help.

Library Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Story Time: Thursday, 10-11:30 a.m.

Bernalillo student elected governor of state YMCA Youth and Government Program

JuanCarlo Sanchez is an upcoming senior at Rio Rancho High School, where he has been part of the Youth and Government Program for the past two years. Recently he was elected 2006-2007 Governor for the New Mexico YMCA’s Youth and Government program, a national program involving over fifty-five thousand teens in model-government programs.

Teens meet in their local clubs throughout the year to discuss and debate issues that affect citizens of their state and propose possible legislation to make state government efficient. The program culminates with the teens serving as delegates at their legislative session, debating bills on the floor of the Assembly and Senate.

The goal of the program is to develop young men and women who will be better citizens by being both knowledgeable and active in determining the future of our democracy.

This summer, JuanCarlo will travel to Washington, DC, and North Carolina to take part in the YMCA Youth Governors’ Conference and the YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs. He will have the opportunity to do research in an area of national or international concern, organize this information in a documented proposal, and engage in intensive discussion and debate with other outstanding young people from other states. In his senior year at Rio Rancho he would like to promote Youth and Government and convince more high-school students to get involved in our government and our nation’s politics.

Cochiti School receives NWF funds for a school-yard habitat

The National Wildlife Federation Awarded $500 to Cochiti School to establish a school-yard habitat. The funds will be used as seed money to create habitats consisting of indigenous plants that will be used for educational projects.

At the elementary school level, students will cultivate vegetables used in traditional Hispanic and Native American dishes. Squash, beans, corn, and other vegetables will be grown in large containers near the classrooms. In addition, the elementary students hope to plant a butterfly garden to attract and hatch butterflies.

At the middle-school level, students will cultivate native plants for traditional and ceremonial uses, as well as for food and beverages. Plants could be used to make pottery paint and or used for ceremonial purposes when learning about traditional customs. Science, math, and language-arts teachers will use the habitat to teach class concepts.

“I know that I will need to aggressively attract more funds to supplement the cost of this project,” said Belle Rehder, Cochiti Middle School science teacher. “But I am proud of this first step! We will begin these projects in the fall.”

The National Wildlife Federation's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Teach English to an adult

Interested in tutoring an adult to speak English as a Second Language? Now is your chance! Once you've completed the 18-hour training, the commitment is just two hours once a week. ReadWest will train you for free, match you with an adult who wants to learn and support you along the way with materials, advice, a place to tutor, and lots of appreciation. You do not have to speak another language to teach someone to speak, read and write English!

The next training is July 12 (orientation) 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. or 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., July 15 and 22, ending with a two-hour observation at your schedule the following week. All sessions complete the 18-hour certified training provided by the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy. All sessions are at the ReadWest location; 2009 Grande Blvd., Rio Rancho. Call ahead or just attend the orientation to sign up.

ReadWest has served over 400 adults this past year in the Adult and Family Literacy Programs. For further information, contact Susan Ryerson, executive director, at

Hosts needed for exchange students

ASSE International Student Exchange Programs is seeking local host families for boys and girls from a variety of countries around the world.

The students are fifteen to eighteen years of age and are coming to this area for the upcoming high-school year or semester. These personable and academically select exchange students speak English well, are bright, curious, and anxious to learn about the United States by living as part of your family, attending high school, and sharing their own culture and language with you.

The exchange students arrive from their home country shortly before school begins and return home at the end of the school year or semester. ASSE students are fully insured, bring their own personal spending money, and expect to bear their share of household responsibilities, as well as being included in normal family activities and lifestyles.

The students are well screened and qualified by ASSE. Families may select the youngster of their choice from extensive student applications, family photos, and biographical essays. There are hundreds of students to choose from.

To become a host family or find out more about ASSE and its programs, call 1-800-733-2773.



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