What makes APS a perfect fit for your student? The short and sweet answer is that New Mexico’s largest school district has the most resources available to meet the diverse needs and interests of students and their families. There’s something for everyone, from preschool and college credit to athletics, advanced placement, career training, and the arts.
Did you know that APS offers pre-kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds? This free program gives kids a head start in developing their communication skills, learning to get along with others, and discovering the world. “In preschool, we come together in joyful play to learn from and with each other,” says Mary Farrelly, Director of the Early Years Office. While children enrolled in pre-kindergarten have fun with engaging and purposeful activities, time spent at school provides parents and guardians with valuable time for work and errands.
Pre-K is especially beneficial for language development. The majority of teachers with a public education license in the program have bilingual or ESL (English as a second language) endorsements. These are all great reasons to have kids in pre-kindergarten, and recent findings show that students in New Mexico who attend pre-kindergarten programs are less likely to be retained for a grade and more likely to graduate from high school, especially among low-income people. and students learning English. “We see this as an opportunity, a stepping stone to greater things for the future,” adds Farrelly.
After pre-K, APS elementary schools have a wide variety of classes and programs to serve students and families. Hawthorne Elementary is one of many APS schools with a dual-language program that provides equal education in English and Spanish, so students are equipped with a skill that opens up many opportunities later in life. Hawthorne is also one of many elementary schools that offer Genius Hour classes where students can choose their majors and pursue interests such as engineering, computer coding, broadcast journalism, chess, racing, dancing, etc
As with many APS schools, Hawthorne has a parent liaison to help meet the unique needs of students and families. “Our students sometimes have trouble getting to our doors,” says Deputy Headmaster Mary Salazar, “so it’s really important to have that person on staff who’s really just there to support parents and help them navigate in systems that help them succeed and, in turn, help students succeed.
Secondary school choice
Meeting the growing and diverse needs of students is high on the APS priority list, and high school students now have more choices and opportunities than ever before. Responsive principals like Edward Bortot of Del Norte create classes that keep students engaged and in school. “We’re moving forward and we’re open-minded in that we’re constantly adding new electives based on student interest,” he says. Students at Del Norte can now follow film criticism in place of English 12, see how historical events and music have influenced each other decade by decade in rock and roll history, or be physically active in a skateboarding lesson.
Del Norte also has one of the biggest esports teams in the district, which took 3rd and 4and place in the state championships last year. Several students on the esports team have won major college scholarships for coding and computer science. Del Norte also offers all the traditional sports offerings and is currently the reigning state AAAA basketball champion and home of the state champion and several wrestling placers. There are also many opportunities for advanced placement and college preparation.
APS is home to a large Native American population, and our Department of Indian Education supports over 100 Native American/Alaska Native tribes, providing specially designed programs for eligible students through culturally relevant teaching methods and materials. “As a district, we seek to expand opportunities for Indigenous students,” said Philip Farson, Acting Senior Director of Indian Education. “We have options for struggling students, and we have options for students who inspire them to learn more about their culture and their language.”
Bilingualism begins in our Pre-K curriculum and extends through high school, with the option of earning the State Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy in Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, French, or German. “You can imagine the opportunities that bilingual and bi-literate certification provides our students with in the global job market,” says Jessica Villalobos, Senior Director of the Language and Cultural Equity Department. “We know that speaking a second language is to their advantage, but above all it is an affirmation of the language and the culture, and the students are very proud of it.
With so many options and programs available to meet the diverse goals, wants, and needs of students and their families, APS is an excellent educational choice. College prep, advanced placement, and college credit tracks are available without the high cost of private schools, and there are career paths that can fast-track students into skilled labor positions directly at from high school. The Operation Connect virtual event on March 29 is a great opportunity for parents and students to learn from the comfort of their own homes about the many choices APS offers and get direct answers from staff in real time. For those unable to make it to the virtual event, in-person events will be held in March and April to support families with the registration process. Enroll your student in APS today to start building a better future.