Barranca Elementary School Staff Professional Development A Big Hit

IMG_3504 (1).jpgBarranca Elementary School teacher Meagon Fiengo speaks to Michael Solano during a professional development class in self defense Friday afternoon at Bankens Mountain Martial Arts Academy. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3480.jpgBarranca Elementary School teacher and Los Alamos County Councilor Katrina Schmidt participates in self-defense training Friday at the Bankens Martial Arts Academy. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3503.jpgProfessor Kevin Bankens demonstrates how he can flip Michael Solano over to free himself. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3476.jpgLos Alamos Historical Museum educator Aimee Slaughter outside the Romero Cabin. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3472.jpgBarranca Elementary School staff gather outside the Romero Cabin Friday afternoon. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3466.jpgBarranca Elementary School staff members chat with Aimee Slaughter, Los Alamos Historical Museum educator, Friday afternoon during professional development training. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3468.jpgBarranca Elementary School staff members check out the books at the Los Alamos Historical Museum Friday afternoon. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3490.jpgProfessor Kevin Bankens at Bankens Mountain Martial Arts Academy demonstrates to Barranca Elementary School staff members how to defend themselves from an attacker. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3484 (2).jpgBarranca Elementary School staff listen to Professor Kevin Bankens Friday afternoon during a self-defense class at the Bankens Mountain Martial Arts Academy. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3496 (4).jpgMaria Musgrave learns how to fend off an attacker during self-defense training Friday afternoon at Bankens Mountain Martial Arts Academy. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


Barranca Elementary School staff completed an afternoon of professional development and community collaborations Friday at the Los Alamos History Museum and Bankens Mountain Martial Arts Academy.

Participants included teachers, instructional assistants, the counselor and the school nurse who split into two groups and alternated between the two facilities.

At the Los Alamos History Museum, the first group was met by museum educator Aimee Slaughter before spending some time becoming familiar with the Guest Cottage, the main building of the museum. The group also visited the Romero Cabin and the Ancestral Site before spending some time exploring the Hans Bethe Cottage.

The Barranca staff, many of whom are new to the campus this year, seemed to enjoy the opportunity to interact with each other while learning a little about Los Alamos history and checking out educational opportunities for students.

“I had been to the museum years ago but I had forgotten how cool it was. I think my students would love to learn about it. We are very fortunate to have a museum like this in town,” one teacher said.

Another teacher said she really liked the way the museum is set up and hoped she could  organize a field trip there some time with her students.

At the second part of the training, things got a little more physical as staff learned some self-defense skills which could help them escape aggressive situations that could arise in their professions as well as their everyday lives.

Several staff members said they hope they never have to use the techniques they learned Friday but feel better knowing how to put them into use if the need arises.

“Getting to know each other better while doing both of these activities was the best part for me,” an instructional assistant told the Los Alamos Reporter.

The training was conducted by Professor Kevin Bankins and Michael Solano. Bankens has been involved in martial arts for more than 40 years and has achieved a 3rd Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. He also holds a 2nd degree brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Shotokan Karate-Do and Kickboxing. The academy, located at 172 Central Park Square, offers classes in Jiu-Jitsu for kids, teens and adults as well as extreme core and body sculpting for ages 12 and up.