LAPS Foundation Recognizes Scholarship Winners And ‘Educators Of Distinction’

Wolfsberg_Batha_McTeigue.jpgLeah Wolfsberg, Margo Batha and Javier McTeague-Vasquez. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Burnside_Engelbrecht (1).jpgPaulina Burnside, right, and Christine Engelbrecht. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Fuehne_Lathrop.jpgDuncan Fuehne and Jenny Diesburg-Lathrop. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Phillips_Pittman.jpgElyse Phillips, left, and Carissa Pittman. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Ovaska_Thelliez2.jpgElodie Thelliez, righ, and Lynn Ovaska. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography


Last month the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation recognized 11 outstanding students for their demonstrated service contributions to the students and community of the Los Alamos Public Schools. Each student received a scholarship and was asked to write an essay about an Educator of Distinction – someone that has had a positive impact on the student during his or her time in the Los Alamos Public Schools.

The students and educators were celebrated at a reception on May 28 at the Los Alamos High School (LAHS) Speech Theater. Later that evening, the students received their awards at the LAHS Senior Recognition Ceremony at Duane Smith Auditorium. The 11 students and educators are as follows:

Leah Wolfsberg is the daughter of Andrew and Laura Wolfsberg. She plans to attend Colorado State University in the fall where she will study Biochemical Engineering. Wolfsberg was selected among this already impressive group of students as the most meritorious recipient, and she was awarded with the Rynd Award. The award is made possible by a large bequest left to the Foundation by Ed and Betty Rynd, a couple with a passion for community service and our schools. Wolfsberg chose Margo Batha as her Educator of Distinction. About Batha she wrote, “She taught me English, yes, but she also showed me the importance of student activism and made me a more grounded person. Mrs. Batha is an educator of distinction because she teaches so much more than just the textbook. She is constantly demonstrating how much we can do for this world, how much our voices matter, and she is always there to show her support for the effort that her students make.”

Javier McTeague-Vasquez is the son of Jose Vasquez and Jolyn McTeigue. He will attend Wheaton College where he will major in Computer Science and Cybersecurity. McTeague-Vasquez also selected Margo Batha as his Educator of Distinction. In his essay he wrote, “From competing at rigorous [speech and debate] tournaments around the country to learning about the importance of time management and schoolwork, I have had the opportunity to excel in high school and to be the best student and team member that I can be because of Mrs. Batha.”

Paulina Burnside is the daughter of Nathan and Patricia Burnside. She will attend New Mexico State University in the fall where she will major in English. Burnside chose Christine Engelbrecht as her Educator of Distinction. Burnside wrote, “Because of the invaluable voice that Ms. Engelbrecht helped me find, I plan on dedicating my life to students who have not found their own voices.”

Duncan Fuehne is the son of David Fuehne and Holly Trellue. He plans to study Engineering and Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Fuehne chose his 5th grade teacher Jenny Diesburg-Lathrop as his Educator of Distinction. He wrote, “I carried the encouragement I received as her fifth-grade student with me throughout all of my middle school and high school years which motivated me to push myself to become the best athlete, scholar, and person that I could be.”

Israel Gellis is the son of Ed and Krista Gellis. He will attend Arizona State University in the fall where he plans to study Business Administration. Gellis chose his English teacher Ildiko Nadaskay-Goeller as his Educator of Distinction. He wrote in his essay, “Since taking Ms. Nadaskay’s class, I have become a much better writer and reader, as well as a better student. Ms. Nadaskay is, without a doubt, the best teacher I have ever had.”

Morgan Jones is the daughter of Daren and Michelle Jones. She will attend New Mexico State University where she will major in Business Administration. Jones chose as her Educator of Distinction Lori Thompson. About Thompson she said, “Throughout my time at Los Alamos High School, Mrs. Thompson has been someone I could rely on for support, advice, and teachings; without her I would not be the person I am today.”

Elyse Phillips is the daughter of David and Edie May Phillips. She will attend Northern Arizona University in the fall where she plans to major in Biomedical Sciences. She nominated her 4th grade teacher Carissa Pittman, who helped Phillips through her transition back to Los Alamos after living abroad for two years. She said, “Mrs. Pittman taught me to take time to persevere through problems and appreciate all aspects of myself. By the end of that year, I was a completely different girl than the shy and frightened new kid.”

Catherine Rousculp is the daughter of Chris and Susannah Rousculp. She plans to study Biology at the University of Utah in the fall. Rousculp named Stephanie Mitchell as her Educator of Distinction. About Mitchell she wrote, “Mrs. Mitchell has made the challenging subject of Biology enthralling for me, taught me the importance of curiosity and discovery, and helped me gain the confidence to make mistakes and speak up.”

Andrea Simons is the daughter of Wayne and DeAnna Simons. She will attend Utah Valley University in the fall. Simons named Zeynep Unal as her Educator of Distinction, Unal was Andrea’s 6th grade GATE teacher. In her essay Simons wrote, “She influenced me in so many positive ways, taught me to persevere, and gave me a renewed thirst for knowledge that I never would have had without her.”

Elodie Thelliez is the daughter of Thierry Thelliez and Cheryl Bell. She will study International Affairs at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Thelliez selected Lynn Ovaska as her Educator of Distinction. She wrote, “I cannot express the joy of learning and excitement for knowledge that she incites in me. Thanks to Mrs. O, I have found a passion [for psychology] that excites me both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Genevieve Triplett is the daughter of Richard and Laurie Triplett. She will study Biochemical Engineering at Colorado State University. She chose to write about her German teacher Elizabeth Bates as her Educator of Distinction. Triplett wrote, “My love of learning German would likely not have been so significant if I didn’t have such a great teacher. Frau Bates has instilled in me a love of language learning that I never thought to be possible.”

Gellis_Nadaskay (2).jpgIsrael Gellis and Ildiko Nadaskay-Goeller. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Jones_Thompson (2).jpgMorgan Jones, left, and Lori Thompson. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Simons_Unal.jpgAndrea Simons, right, and Zeynep Unal. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Rousculp_Mitchell2.jpgCatherine Rousculp, left, and Stephanie Mitchell. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Triplett_Bates2.jpgGenevieve Triplett, right, and Elizabeth Bates. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

LAPSFWinners (1).jpgEleven LAPS Foundation scholarship winners. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has raised more than $1 million for Los Alamos Public School. The funds support opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments. To learn more about the LAPS Foundation, visit or call 505.500.6501.