Each year, New Mexico Magazine accepts nominations for its New Mexico Magazine True Heroes — 10 champions from across the state who make their communities better places. This year, two of them have ties to the Lab.
The True Heroes are lauded in the December 2023 issue of New Mexico Magazine and in a video presentation courtesy of TV station KOB-4.
Supporting math teachers
Zachary Leonard and Randy Merker from the Laboratory’s Match and Science Academy (MSA) nominated True Hero Lynda Spencer, principal of Blanco Elementary School, east of Farmington. When her school's math proficiency scores were in the single digits, Spencer collaborated with the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Lab's MSA to retool their teaching techniques. After a three-year collaboration, the students' scores have climbed to 27%.
"She is continuously reflective and learning from what they've done, making changes, adjusting, improving," Merker told New Mexico Magazine about Spencer.
Leonard, Merker and their colleague Karla Matute work full-time for the MSA and its Math Teacher Leader Network. The academy increases elementary and middle school students' math proficiency by offering teachers innovative techniques along with support in their consistent implementation. To date, it has graduated more than 600 teachers and principals across Northern New Mexico.
Richard Sturgeon, from the Laboratory’s environmental protection and compliance division, was chosen for his dedication to motorcycle safety through the Jemez Riders Riding Club, petitioning Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to designate May as New Mexico Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month (it worked!) and collaborating with state officials to create a special motorcycle safety awareness license plate.
"The license plate is really like a mobile billboard. People can see the plate, they can think about motorcycles, hopefully reduce accidents and maybe save lives," Sturgeon told KOB-4.