New Mexico - Public Education Department

2017 New Mexico Teacher of the Year
Stephanie Gurulé-Leyba
Capital High School

Stephanie Gurulé-Leyba was raised in Las Vegas, New Mexico and has been teaching for 21 years. She teaches biomedical sciences and serves as the co-chair of the Medical Science Academy at Capital High School in the Santa Fe Public Schools.

Stephanie is a graduate of Robertson High School in Las Vegas and has always admired her teachers, including her father, for really instilling in her life lessons that she shares with her students. Stephanie says that she would be lying if she said she planned to become a teacher. As a pre-medical student in college, she began tutoring and mentoring students as part of her community service and was persuaded to take an Introduction to Teaching course by her mentor and education professor, Dr. James Alarid. She discovered that she enjoyed working with students and had exciting ideas that she wanted to share. Stephanie is very passionate about science and medicine and knew that as a teacher she could share that passion with many students.

With one-third of boys and girls losing an interest in STEM by the time they reached 4th grade and almost 50% of 8th graders losing interest or finding STEM irrelevant to their future, Stephanie knew that something needed to change. In 2012 she founded Scrub Club, a STEAM-Healthcare Summer Enrichment Program that services 4th through 8th grade students who are interested in medicine and healthcare related areas. Scrub Club, a three level program, introduces students to the world of healthcare using human body systems and crime scene investigations as the foundation and to focus STEM activities on real-life issues and problems. Scrub Club is not your typical student program; not only are students learning about the heart, they are dissecting the heart, learning CPR and having open discussions about health ailments involving the heart that have affected them on a personal level. Scrub Club has serviced over 800 students in the Santa Fe Public Schools.

Stephanie always remembers what her father told her when she decided to be a teacher; “Being a teacher is wonderful! It is something that I will never change. You will not get rich as a teacher and you will not be thanked daily. But when your students have that ‘light bulb moment’ and get excited about their learning, you know that you changed them forever!”

Stephanie believes that the job of a teacher does not end when the bell rings for the day. “Everyday we teach, encourage, instruct, mentor, praise, influence, guide and inspire. Those who say, “Teaching is easy,” have never been a teacher. Those who say, Teaching is not rewarding, have never been a teacher. But, if these same people were to see and experience students’ intellectual growth, maturity, and an ownership of their learning, many would agree that teaching is the most fulfilling job because you have molded the mind and touched the heart of a student forever. Our students need to understand that they will never finish what they started. They will always be learning. It is important that we instill a culture of learning with our students and with their families and community. We are all teachers and our students are our future.”

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