Kids are back to school starting this week in the East Mountains and Estancia Valley.

Moriarty-Edgewood School District

The Moriarty-Edgewood School District has 2,418 students enrolled as the school year starts. “Usually, numbers go down from the beginning of the year once other schools start requesting records, but we anticipate enrollment being around 2,350,” said district superintendent Teresa Salazar. “Last year was the first time since the early 2000s that MESD received growth units due to an increase of 1% or more of the student population by the 40th day.”

The district is welcoming two new principals, Salazar said, Savannah Luce at Moriarty Elementary and Miles Mitchell at Moriarty Middle School.

Salazar said the majority of staff positions are filled, “with the exception of one kindergarten teacher that will be added to [Moriarty Elementary] due to high numbers of students,” adding, “This is a good problem to have.”

The district’s transportation department currently has eight bus drivers in training. “We hope to have all routes fully staffed and substitutes within the next couple of weeks,” Salazar said.

The school district is participating in the Community Eligibility Program, meaning that all students in the school district will receive free breakfast and lunch. “The district is also working with local beef producers to provide fresh beef for our students. [Josh] McCleave has been working hard to get these programs in place.”

Moriarty Elementary received a state grant that will provide resources and support to the school in becoming a “community school,” she said. According to a press release from the Public Education Department, 68 New Mexico schools were awarded funds “to harness specific techniques, programs and practices shown to improve academic outcomes, especially in schools with high numbers of students from low-income families.”

The program is the result of the 2019 New Mexico Community Schools Act. The aim is to “engage the entire community in identifying barriers to academic achievement and then implementing home-grown strategies to provide students with whatever they need to be academically successful,” according to the press release.

Salazar said “Covid is definitely not gone,” but added, “We hope that there is a minimal effect in the classrooms” due to widespread access to vaccines. “MESD will continue to follow the NMDOH guidelines. Students and staff can make their own choice on wearing a mask,” she said. “The district will continue to do enhanced disinfection of the facilities.”

Now in her 34th year in education, “I’m still just as excited as ever for the beginning of a new school year,” Salazar said, adding, “As a district, we want to reimagine what education can look like. Our focus is on relationships and meeting all students where they are at.”

East Mountain High School

East Mountain High School classes start Aug. 8, with a series of retreats and orientations set up for each grade level.

According to principal Trey Smith, “The 2022-2023 school year marks the highest enrollment in the history of our school, with a substantial wait list at each grade level. We are thrilled that demand for our school is at an all-time high, and we are embarking on path to increase our facility capacity to accommodate even more families.”

Smith said a large group of stakeholders met last spring to craft a new mission statement that will guide the school’s operations in the decade to come: “A safe, innovative environment, EMHS engages a diverse community of learners through transformative experiences and creative problem solving to shape forward-thinking leaders.”

“We have a robust athletics program, top-ranked debate and robotics teams, an innovative music and recording program, and much more that we are excited to grow in the coming school year,” Smith said.

Estancia Valley Classical Academy

Estancia Valley Classical Academy staff return to school August 8, and students will return August 15.

Jennifer Rivera will be returning as the executive director of EVCA, but the school has added an assistant executive director, Davina Turner; a disciplinarian, Robert Chavez; and a student support liaison, Chris Branan, to its faculty.

Changes for the 2022-2023 school year include some new teachers in both grammar school and upper school, Rivera said. Diana Teeters will be joining as a second grade teacher, Ian Gordon will be joining as a fourth grade teacher, and Brandon Ghiassi will be joining as a fifth grade teacher.

Additions in upper school include Kenneth Rose, math, Donnie Daugherty, history, and Caroline Cossin, teaching economics and literature. Keri Van Vleet is joining EVCA as a Special Education teacher. In addition to the changes in administration and faculty, there are many valuable educational assistants and ancillary staff who have joined the team, Rivera said.

Rivera said the K-12 charter school’s enrollment is the highest it has ever been, and the school currently has an expansion project happening on the east side of the building. The expansion will include a multi-purpose room, additional offices, classrooms, bathrooms, an east parking lot, and an extended road to aid in student pick-up.

Mountainair Public Schools

Mountainair Public Schools return August 15. According to Superintendent Dawn Apodaca, the staff members attended training courses over the summer, including a group of 36 that attended the Jostens Global Conference. “Our goal this year is to decrease chronic absenteeism, increase engagement and close the academic gap caused by the pandemic,” Apodaca said.

She said the school district is excited to announce its new team members. They have a new 2nd grade teacher named Mariah Hamilton, who comes from Santa Fe with 5 years of experience. They have a new 3rd grade teacher named Vanessa Pena from Central Consolidated Schools, with 15 years of experience. Jennifer Johnson is returning as a teacher of Elementary Special Education.

Loretta O’Donnell joined the district in the middle of last year as our counselor. Alicia Kayser is a Health Assistant, La’Sha Romero is the front office assistant and the library assistant. “At the High School, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Jeremy Oliver as our new Social Studies teacher. We are excited to welcome our new High School Math teacher, Mrs. Mary Gustin. In our cafeteria, we want to welcome Roxanne Ortiz as our new part-time helper!” Apodaca said. “The Mustang family is pleased to welcome all our new members and we look forward to a fun and exciting new year with renewed energy and focus.”

The district still needs a Middle School teacher of Special Education, and another custodian, she said. Interested parties may apply on nmreap.net.

In addition, the Mountainair Public School Board of Education is also looking for another member. Anyone who is interested can submit a letter of interest to MPS Board of Education to P.O. Box 456, Mountainair NM 87036. The deadline to submit is Monday, August 22, 2022. Letters will be reviewed August 23.

Estancia Municipal Schools

Estancia Municipal Schools will begin for students in grades one through six, and seventh, ninth, and new secondary students will participate in Jump Start on August 15.

The rest of middle and high school start August 16. Kindergarten and PreK students begin a week later on August 22.

Breakfast is served free for all students beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the cafeteria for K-6 and with a grab-and-go breakfast at 8:45 a.m. for 7-12 students. Class instruction begins at 8:45 a.m.

According to Superintendent Cindy Sims, this is a later start time than in years past. Parents needing before school care may call the school office to register their children. “Good luck to all our students showing at the Torrance County Fair next week. We will see you soon!” Sims said.