The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Joey Robak and Anna Schoen

Joey Robak and Anna Schoen

Placitas students shine in state competition

Joey Robak, a fifth-grade student in Ms. Chavez's class at Placitas Elementary, won first place in a writing contest at the state level. The contest, Letters about Literature, was was sponsored by the Center for the Book in the National Library of Congress in partnership with Target Corporation.

Joey’s wrote an assessment of the book Loser. He won in New Mexico at Level 1, which includes fourth through sixth grade. He won a cash award and a $50 Target gift certificate.

Joey's letter will now go on to compete at the National Level, and if he should win he will receive a $500 cash award as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., with his parents and a teacher. A copy of Joey's letter will be placed in the National Archives at the National Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

On another note, Anna Schoen, also a fifth-grade student in Ms. Chavez's class, was a winner in the 2005 Santa Fe Opera Youth Art Design Contest. Her submission was selected for honorable mention in the state contest.

Anna received a cash award, and her work will be kept in the archives of The Santa Fe Opera as a treasured work of art.

Congratulations to both Joey and Anna, both exceptional students at Placitas Elementary.


Chapparral Council day camp for Bernalillo children

Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council will offer a Safe Kids 101 Day Camp this summer for girls and boys ages five to eleven years old living in Bernalillo. Children will learn first aid, fire safety, stranger danger, cooking skills, babysitting skills, how to be safe at home alone, and other safety skills. The camp will be held August 8-12 in Bernalillo. To receive more information or to register, call Jennifer Lowe at 343-1040, extension 3010.

Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council serves more than sixty-eight hundred girls and twenty-five hundred adults in nine counties in New Mexico and five counties in southwestern Colorado. 

Chaparral Council welcomes all girls and adults to join the organization as members or volunteers. Contributions for programs, financial aid, or other organizational needs are welcome as well. To volunteer, join, or contribute, please call 505-343-1040, 800-658-6768, or visit


Andrea Kotowski

Andrea Kotowski

PES teacher advises at national level

Andrea Kotowski, a first-grade teacher at Placitas Elementary School, has been invited to become a national facilitator for PBS’s TeacherLine. Funded by a Ready to Teach grant from the U.S. Department of Education, TeacherLine offers research- and standards-based online professional-development programs for educators.

PBS TeacherLine is committed to helping PreK-12 teachers acquire the skills they need to prepare students for a successful future. TeacherLine offers more than ninety courses in mathematics, reading, instructional technology, instructional strategies, science, and curriculum mapping. Courses are facilitated by specially trained educators, combining the best of face-to-face professional development with the best of online instructional design.

PBS TeacherLine is made available to educators across the country through partnerships with member stations and local education agencies. KNME is the member station in New Mexico.

Bernalillo Public Schools was the first school district in the state to receive a grant from KNME to start these courses. Andrea was approached by them to be a local facilitator in 2002. She has facilitated several of the courses offered by TeacherLine since that time. As a facilitator, she went to Las Vegas, Nevada, for an intense two-day training course, and then completed a six-week online facilitator course.

Several of the teachers at Placitas Elementary, as well as the principal, have taken TeacherLine courses. These classes offer high-quality professional development and are eligible for graduate credit.

KNME recommended Andrea to PBS for a national facilitator position, which began on April 18. Andrea is facilitating a curriculum-mapping course on a national level. As evidence of the impact of the program, one of the teachers in her class is from a high school in Hawaii.

Sandra Vigil, a teacher at Bernalillo High School, is currently a local facilitator of PBS TeacherLine. There are now twenty local facilitators throughout New Mexico, and Andrea is the only national facilitator in the state at this time


Secretary of Education Garcia works to close achievement gap

In April, state Secretary of Education Veronica C. Garcia hosted a community conversation entitled “Closing the Achievement Gap” at Bernalillo High School. The Bernalillo community conversation was held in conjunction with the celebration of the eleventh anniversary of the Even Start Family Literacy program.

Garcia said, “For the High School Competency Exam in 2004, of the 18,965 tenth-grade students attempting all six subtests in English, 66 percent passed all six subtests; 81.4 percent of Anglos passed the test, followed by 76.9 percent of Asians, 58.3 percent of African-Americans, 57.9 percent of Hispanics, and 49.5 percent of Native Americans. These statistics reflect an enormous achievement gap that we must try to close as quickly as possible. I have reiterated throughout my tenure as Secretary that I am 100 percent committed to raising expectations and student achievement for all students in New Mexico while at the same time closing the achievement gap.”

The community conversation in Bernalillo is the first of a series of conversations to be held this fall in several communities across New Mexico. These conversations are designed to probe the audience for greater understanding of the root causes of the achievement gap as well as finding lasting solutions. Parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders are encouraged to participate.

For additional information, call (505) 867-7870.


The County Line—

Summer Youth Employment program establishes work ethic, memories

William Sapien
Chairman, Sandoval County Commission

There are some things in life you just never forget. The first day of school and, years later, graduation ceremonies, a wedding, and the birth of a child are among the milestones that create lifelong memories.

Another life-influencing event is that first job and the first boss. The opportunity to earn a paycheck in exchange for performing needed work contributes to our independence, self-esteem, and sense of accomplishment. It also establishes the work ethic and memories that will last far longer than the first paycheck.

We all remember the first time we worked for “real-money” pay. My first job was at age twelve, when I worked a neighbor's fields for fifty cents a day. That lasted until I landed a job shoveling coal that paid $5 a day. Both jobs were hard work and, in addition to providing needed money, helped fuel my motivation to graduate from college and then go on to earn a master's degree.

In Sandoval County, the commission has established and funds our highly effective Summer Youth Employment program to help spark those memories and spark good work habits in our youth today.

This year, about one hundred young adults between ages fourteen and seventeen years who are willing to work hard and take their jobs seriously will get the chance to work twenty hours a week. In exchange for the memories, skills, and paychecks they earn, the teens will provide needed services that enable government, schools, and not-for-profit agencies to continue offering services to county residents.

The program jobs are varied, and all are needed and necessary. Some of the youth employees may wash dishes, do typing and filing, or help maintain lawns and public buildings. Others will work with senior citizens or summer recreation programs. Some workers will be assigned to jobs with local government agencies in each of the county's incorporated communities. Others will provide maintenance at public schools or assist in various areas of county government, such as public works or personnel.

The county commission recognizes the substantial benefits the program provides and has budgeted funds to pay this year's participants an hourly wage of $5.25, or ten cents above the national minimum wage. In return, we have high expectations of participants: good, hard work and an effort to make a contribution in the workplace will be required.

Applications for the program have already been completed and returned, and the selection process is underway. The commission will review the list of applicants in early May, and participants will be notified of selections a few weeks later.

Work starts on June 6 with a mandatory orientation session to help employees and employers understand expectations and job requirements. At the end of the program, on July 29, supervisors will provide the young workers with a written job evaluation and discuss their work performance with them.

The supervisors are key to the success of our Summer Youth Employment program. They are responsible for training the youth employees and provide on-the-job direction and oversight.

Lifestyles and the economy have changed considerably since I earned fifty cents for a full day's work. At the same time, however, the need for our youth to develop and follow dependable work habits in today's global economy is more important today than ever before.

Questions or comments for Commissioner Sapien can be mailed to him in care of Sandoval County Administrative offices, P.O. Box 40, Bernalillo, New Mexico 87004.


Contestants sought for county fair queen, princesses, sweethearts

Sandoval County Fair Board is recruiting young ladies ages seventeen to twenty-three, to compete for the title of Sandoval County Fair Queen. Contestants must have skills in horsemanship, modeling, and public speaking. Contestants must be single and never have been married or had a child. They must also have been residents of the county for one year prior to September 1, 2005. The deadline to register is June 4, but the committee has training and information that are needed before the contest. In addition, the county fair board will hold contests for Princesses, ages twelve to sixteen, and Sweethearts, ages eight to eleven. For more information, call Erin Herrmann at 867-6369 or the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Office at 867-2582 or (800) 678-1802.


Children’s music camp at UNM

The UNM Music Prep School will provide a summer session of Saturday music classes for children from birth through sixth grade. This summer there will be an eight-week session from June 4 through July 30, and two four-week sessions from June 4 through 25 and from June 11 through July 9. The classes will be held in the UNM Center for the Arts at Popejoy Hall, between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Offerings include preschool and family music, musical stories for preschoolers, play-party games for the family, folk dance for the family, recorder instruction, baritone ukulele instruction, Orff instrument ensemble, and piano and guitar.

For further information about the program, visit, e-mail, or call 277-8816.


Maxwell Museum to host children's summer camp

The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico will offer a summer program for children from eight to twelve years old. Camp will be held June 13-17, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The program will include educational and craft activities, recreation, games, and snacks. Theme days are:

  • Music From Around the World
  • Archaeology Day
  • Spanish Colonial Life and Arts Day
  • Making A Living the Ancient Way Day
  • Skulls & Skills Day

Advance registration is required. Call 277-5963 or 277-2924. Twenty children per day is the maximum enrollment. The cost is $30 per day per child or $125 for the week with early registration (before May 13), and $35 per day per child or $150 for the week for late registration. There will be an additional $5 transportation fee for both Archaeology Day and Spanish Colonial Day and a signed parental release is required.

Lunch is not included; however, two snacks a day will be provided. Due to financial commitments to support services, there will be no refunds for cancellations.




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