Public Education Department Announces Four New Mexico Teacher Of The Year Finalists


New Mexico Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart today announced four finalists for 2021 New Mexico Teacher of the Year:

  • Alicia Cooper de Uribe, a first-grade bilingual education teacher at NM International School, an Albuquerque Public Schools charter school;
  • Christina Herrera-Furst, a humanities teacher at Amy Biehl High School in Albuquerque;
  • Suzanne K. Holman, a French and English teacher at Farmington High School;
  • Tasha Vasquez, a fifth-grade teacher at Solare Collegiate Charter School, a state charter school in Albuquerque.

Each year since the program began in 1963, New Mexico’s 89 school districts and state charter schools have been invited to nominate outstanding teachers to become New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year, representing our state in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Those nominated must then complete an application. Selection is based on both classroom performance and strength of application, including letters of recommendation from their school community.

Applications are then reviewed and scored by a selection committee consisting of education leaders from across the state. The top four have now been referred to Secretary Stewart, who will make the final selection.

“I have a difficult decision ahead of me,” Secretary Stewart said. “I have no doubt that each of these candidates would do a wonderful job representing New Mexico as Teacher of the Year.”

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) is the title sponsor for the New Mexico Teacher of the Year program for the second year. 

Mandi Torres, a third-grade teacher at Placitas Elementary School, is the 2020 NM Teacher of the Year. 

“My tenure as Teacher of the Year has been an enriching experience that has helped me to grow professionally, as a leader and as a human being,” Torres said. “Representing teachers across New Mexico has only strengthened my resolve to uplift my profession and advocate for an education system that can be transformed to meet the needs of all students, especially our most vulnerable.”