PRESS RELEASE - December 8, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Education Secretary Garcia Receives 2003 'Educator of the Year' Award

(Santa Fe, NM)--Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia was named the 2003 Educator of the Year (Administrator) by the New Mexico Research and Study Council on December 4 at its 21st Annual Quality Education Awards Program. "This year it was unanimous," said Dr. John Mondragon, Council director, of Secretary Garcia's selection.

“Starting as a substitute teacher, Dr. Garcia has shown dedication, exemplary leadership and hard work toward educational excellence in New Mexico,” said Dr. Mondragon. In announcing the award, the Council acknowledged her service as an educator in New Mexico for 30 years, including serving as a teacher, principal, assistant director of Special Education, school psychologist, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent and superintendent. In November, Dr. Garcia was named as the state’s first secretary of education.

Governor Bill Richardson praised Dr. Garcia for her leadership skills. “I can’t think of a better person to honor as Educator of the Year,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “This award exemplifies Dr. Garcia’s commitment to children. I knew when I appointed her as secretary of education that the state was getting the best person for the job.”

Prior to becoming secretary of education, Dr. Garcia was executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for leadership and community service including superintendent of the year for New Mexico. She has been featured in the Executive Educator and in Nuestras Mujeres: 500 Years of Hispanic Women in New Mexico.

In addition to announcing the educator of the year, the Council announced four district winners for outstanding programs at the district, elementary, middle and high school levels. Winning at the elementary and high school levels was Santa Rosa Consolidated Schools for programs at Santa Rosa Elementary and Santa Rosa High. The middle school level winner was Questa Independent Schools for its Roots and Wings Community School and the district winner was the Grants-Cibola County Schools for its Native language program. Each district will receive a college scholarship for a graduating high school senior.

The Council, part of the University of New Mexico College of Education, consists of school superintendents and their staff from across the state. The consortium provides research, professional development, conferences and study groups in addition to the annual quality education awards. The Council was founded in 1959.