LAPS Foundation Recognizes Scholarship Winners And ‘Educators Of Distinction’


The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation awarded scholarships to 11 outstanding students in the class of 2021 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 who has had a positive impact on the student during their time in the Los Alamos Public Schools. The Foundation held an outdoor reception at the high school in May for the students, their families and their educators of distinction.  Congratulations to the following 11 students and their educators.

Victoria Nisoli/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Victoria Nisoli is the daughter of Donatella Rivoltella and Cristiano Nisoli.  A future mechanical engineering major heading to University of New Mexico, Nisoli was selected among this already impressive group of students as the most meritorious recipient, and she was awarded with the Rynd Award. This award is made possible by a large bequest left to LAPS Foundation by Ed and Betty Rynd, a couple with a passion for community service and our schools. Nisoli chose Whitney Pomeroy, her 10th grade honors English teacher, as her Educator of Distinction.  About Pomeroy she wrote, “I’m so grateful to have had a teacher who spurred me to learn and enjoy it . . . for the first time, I felt a true drive to learn, one that placed little emphasis on grades and more on the process of my work. Ms. Pomeroy sparked my interest in English literature and made me the avid writer I am today.” 

Logan Black/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Logan Black is the son of Cindy and Justin Black. He will attend St. Cloud State University and major in secondary education. Black selected Dana Kline (7th grade English teacher) and Katie Nelson (9th grade English teacher) as his Educators of Distinction. In his essay Logan wrote “Both of these teachers have helped shape me into the person I am today . . . throughout elementary school I struggled in school, because I had a hard time reading and both of these teachers helped me both academically and personally.  I don’t believe I would have gotten on the same path of being an English and History oriented student without their guidance.” 

Filippo Delzano, left, and Mike Montano. Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Filippo Delzanno is the son of Cristina Rinaudo and Gian Luca Delzanno. He will attend the University of California at Santa Barbara in the fall, majoring in physics.  Delzanno chose Mike Montano, his high school government teacher, as his Educator of Distinction. Delzanno wrote, “By challenging me to think critically about the world around me and question my own opinions, Mr. Montano encourages me to become a more well-rounded student, who is ready to step into the world and make a lasting impact . . . Mr. Montano teaches me that, above all, we must spread the truth and learn from each other to take the first steps towards a more just and equal society.”  

Jaxson Martinez and his mother, Kristen Martines/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Jaxson Martines is the son of Kristen and Jason Martines. He plans to study business and sports management at Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi. Jaxson chose his mom, Kristen Martines, as his educator of distinction.  He wrote, I was fortunate enough [in third grade] to be in her classroom everyday for reading and writing lessons. Through the years, I have been able to witness first-hand her dedication, hard work, understanding, and compassion for her students.  My mom’s compassion and knowledge helped her students gain confidence in their own abilities, allowing them to soar in the learning process.  After nearly 18 years in the profession, I still see her working hard at home on lesson plans, grading papers and communicating with parents who have children in her class.  I have used these qualities to build a foundation on becoming a better student, classmate, and person.”  

Isabella Martinez Pruet and Catherine Puranananda/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Isabella Martinez Pruet, the daughter of Elizabeth Martinez and Jason Pruet, plans to study biochemistry at the University of North Texas. Pruet chose Catherine Puranananda, her AP Literature teacher, as her Educator of Distinction. She wrote in her essay, “Out of all my years of school she was the one teacher I really connected with. Not only is she the funniest teacher I know, but she also makes an effort to really understand her students.  She notices the small things . . . she saw me not as just a student who’s there to work and be graded, but as a human being who struggles sometimes and who has feelings. She also has a passion for community service and motivated me to work even harder to help people.”  

Christine Mathew and Debbie Grothaus/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Christine Mathew is the daughter of Kattathu Mathew and Liby Mathew. She will attend Texas A & M University, Blinn College, and major in nuclear engineering. Christine chose Debbie Grothaus, her honors physics teacher, as her Educator of Distinction. She wrote, “Mrs. Grothaus instilled within me a love for science that I will take further in my future educational pursuits. Most importantly, Mrs. Grothaus has taught me to never be discouraged or ashamed of struggling but to take pride in committing myself to my work, especially when it is difficult. This has been a lesson that I have applied to every difficulty I have come though, in and outside the classroom, and that I will always value and share with others.” 


William McTeigue and Carter Payne/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

William McTeigue is the son of Jolyn McTeigue. He will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he plans to major in biology. He nominated LAHS principal Carter Payne as his Educator of Distinction.  William said, “Mr. Payne wants students to be involved and feel valued in our community. His readiness to work with Student Council to implement our ideas motivates me to plan extensively for student body activities.  I have been shown an example of how to build up my community as a leader with fairness, encouragement and an assuring sense of calm like Principal Carter Payne.” 

Audrey Nolen and Carol Hermes/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Audrey Nolen is the daughter of Steve and April Nolen.  She plans to major in sociology and pre-law at Baylor University.  Audrey chose Carol Hermes, her sixth grade teacher at Pinon Elementary, as her Educator of Distinction.  She wrote, “Ms. Hermes will always stand in my mind as what every teacher should strive to be. She was a constant source of support, jokes and passion for what she did. She made all of us students feel like her own kids . . . She helped me feel normal about my love of school, learning, and other nerdy things. Ms. Hermes encouraged me to use my powerful personality to encourage others and change the world.  I hope that I’m making her proud.” 

Rachel Rivera and Annette Sehorn/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Rachel Rivera is the daughter of Christine Hipp and Melvin Rivera. She will attend the University of Washington and major in anthropology.  Rivera named Annette Sehorn, her reading teacher at Mountain Elementary School, as her Educator of Distinction. In her essay Rachel wrote, “Since taking Mrs. Sehorn’s class I have become much more confident in myself and my reading abilities.  That confidence has pushed me to take much harder classes that I might not have if I hadn’t gained confidence in my abilities as a student . . . To this day I am very grateful for Mrs. Sehorn, her class and Mountain School for having a program like this that I could benefit from.  Without Mrs. Sehorn’s class I do not believe I would be at the place I am today and as I prepare to attend college I can’t help but reflect on that experience and how truly grateful I am that I had someone to help me overcome that hurdle.” 

Isaac Romero and Don Davis/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Isaac Romero is the son of Jose Romero and Albinita Romero. He will study biochemistry at the University of New Mexico.  Isaac chose Don Davis who teaches robotics and engineering classes at LAHS as his Educator of Distinction. He wrote, “Mr. Davis is not only an exceptional teacher, but also one that I consider to be a friend . . . He encouraged me to pursue a college education and helped me choose courses to explore my interests. Part of my inspiration to pursue a STEM related career is owed to him. During my time in his classes, I learned about programs such as CAD and technological information that I can continue to use the rest of my life.” 

Andrew West and Christine Engelbrecht/Photo by Jessica Booton Photography

Andrew West is the son of Katie Bruell. He will attend Yale University this fall. Andrew chose Christine Engelbrecht as his Educator of Distinction. “My honors and AP Lang classes with Ms. E. were without a doubt the classes I had to work the hardest in, but also without a doubt the most rewarding.  I feel prepared to tackle any writing assignment and ready to make a strong rhetorical argument about any subject. I’m extremely grateful for the time and effort Ms. Engelbrecht put into making each and every one of her students (including me) more capable writers, readers, and people.”

About LAPS Foundation

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that helps the local community provide an extraordinary education for Los Alamos students. Los Alamos has given over $1.5 million to fund opportunities students and teachers would not have otherwise. To learn more about LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit or call 505.500.6501. Donations to LAPS Foundation, a 501(C)(3) organization, are tax-deductible.