LAPS Foundation Recognizes Community Service, Technical Scholarship Winners And ‘Educators Of Distinction’

Executive Director
Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation

The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation awarded eleven community service scholarships and two career technical scholarships for students in the Hilltopper Class of 2023.  Each student who received a scholarship wrote an essay about their 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 a reception at the high school in May for the students, their families and their educators of distinction.  

Congratulations to the following community service scholarship winners and their educators of distinction:  

Yunseo Kim, right, and her ‘Educator of Distinction’ Margo Batha. Photo by Jessica Booton

Yunseo Kim is the daughter of Hyunjoo Kang and Yongho Kim.  This fall Yunseo will attend Columbia University and major in political science and human rights.  Because of her extensive community service efforts during high school, Kim was selected as the most meritorious recipient among this already impressive group of students, 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. Kim selected Margo Batha, the Hilltalkers Speech and Debate coach, as her Educator of Distinction.  Yunseo wrote this about Batha: “She has been an incredible mentor and has helped me to develop my public speaking skills, confidence, and ability to think on my feet. . .Throughout the ups and downs of my high school journey, Mrs. Batha has also been there for me as a support system. . . Mrs. Batha has stood by me every step of the way, and I am deeply grateful to have her in my life. Mrs. Batha is an exceptional educator and a true inspiration. She has helped me chase my dreams and has encouraged me to strive for excellence in all that I do.” 

Mikaela Brown and her ‘Educator of Distinction’ Tacarra Lake. Photo by Jessica Booton

Mikaela Brown is the daughter of Annemarie and Don Brown. She will attend Utah State University and major in human development and family studies. Mikaela selected Tacarra Lake, her 11th grade English teacher, as Educator of Distinction. In her essay she wrote “Ms. Lake used books as tools to widen my perspective and explore other cultures. Through literature, she taught me to look beyond the surface to find the true meaning disguised in life. Her class was thought provoking and challenged me to think critically. . . Ms. Lake not only taught me English, but a lot about life. She has inspired me to examine the world beyond myself and expand my horizons. With her teachings in mind, I feel prepared for the future. I truly admire her work ethic and the devotion she has as an educator. I hope to someday make a difference in the world like Ms. Lake has made in mine.”

Madelyn Crotzer/Photo by Jessica Booton

Madelyn Crotzer is the daughter of Laura and Ronald Crotzer. She will attend New Mexico Tech this fall and major in chemical engineering.  Madelyn chose Whitney Pomeroy, her 10th grade English teacher, as Educator of Distinction. Crotzer wrote, “I took Ms. Pomeroy’s Honors English 10 class when school was completely remote. During a time when I felt school was unengaging and depressing, I looked forward to Ms. Pomeroy’s class. Somehow, Ms. Pomeroy made her class engaging and energizing by adapting lessons and projects to an online format that retained the quality of in-person learning and kept her students involved in the class. . . Her English class was a refuge of sanity during a chronically stressful time.”

Adeline Feng, right, and her Educator of Distinction Christine Englebrecht. Photo by Jessica Booton

Adeline Feng is the daughter of Cuilan Yuan and Shihai Feng. She plans to study psychology at the University of New Mexico. Adeline chose Christine Engelbrecht, her 10th grade English teacher as Educator of Distinction.  She wrote, “Ms. E. showed me the importance of being a good writer and how to be one. . . She forced us to have a growth mindset, and my writing got better because of that mindset. It wasn’t only my writing that improved, my entire life improved after she helped me switch to a growth mindset. I wasn’t afraid of getting criticism which meant I took advice on how to be a better leader. I was more willing to listen to how I could improve in my various activities. I generally became a better person and friend.”

Quinton Geller, left, and his Teacher of Distinction Louise Foliot. Photo by Jessica Booton

Quinton Geller is the son of Elizabeth Hong-Geller and Drew Geller.  He plans to study chemistry, materials science and engineering at University of Pennsylvania this fall.  Quinton chose Louise Foliot, the LAHS French teacher, as Educator of Distinction. He wrote in his essay, “While the math and science courses that I’ve previously tended to prioritize have taughtme the ways of the universe, Madame Foliot’s classes have taught me the way of the world. Bylearning how to assume different perspectives and discovering the vast interconnectedness ofhuman communities around the globe, I learned perhaps the most important lesson of my highschool career: my own place in society.”

Violet Henderson, right, and her Educator of Distinction Zeynep Unal. Photo by Jessica Booton

Violet Henderson is the daughter of Kristin Henderson and Bradley Henderson. She will attend Claremont McKenna College in the fall and will be majoring in economics and political science. Violet chose Zeynep Unal, her GATE teacher at Mountain, as Educator of Distinction. About Unal, Henderson wrote, “In her class, I learned how I personally best learn, focus, and think. I felt like my mind could explore wherever it wanted and I had the opportunity to feel completely fulfilled academically. Additionally, the realization that I was capable of excelling in any topic that I am interested in is a profound gift she gave me. I could tell that she cared about me; I improved not only in academics but as a whole person. She treated us like mature and free-thinking people. Ms. Unal has truly affected the course of my life.”

Isabella McTeigue, right, and her Educator of Distinction Eva Abeyta|

Isabella Vasquez McTeigue is the daughter of Jolyn McTeigue. She will attend the University of New Mexico where she plans to study business. Isabella nominated Eva Abeyta, her eighth grade science teacher, as Educator of Distinction: “My most influential teacher has been Ms. Abeyta. She was my eighth-grade science teacher and my mentor in the Science and Engineering Fair. Ms. Abeyta taught scientific concepts through exciting, interactive labs. The more I learned from her, the more inspired I became by her intelligence as a female in STEM. Over the next four years, I would see Ms. Abeyta around town. She would greet me with a hug and show interest in me by asking about classes and life in high school.”

Elise Ovaska, right, and her Educator of Distinction Mary Grace. Photo by Jessica Booton

Elise Ovaska is the daughter of Lynn and Eric Ovaska.  She plans to major in art at Arizona State University.  Ovaska chose Mary Grace, the LAHS fine arts teacher, as Educator of Distinction.  She wrote, “Ms. Grace is probably the most hard-working, kind, compassionate, caring, understanding, and loving teacher I’ve ever had. She understands the importance of creativity even outside of her classroom and medium. It has been wonderful to work with her in all the creative spaces at the school. Ms. Grace has pushed me to work outside of my comfort zone and continue to experiment with different mediums and styles. She has helped to cultivate my love of art so much so that I plan on studying art and animation in college. I couldn’t possibly put all my gratitude into one essay but Ms. Grace is truly the best teacher ever.”

Yeanwoo Park, right, with his Educator of Distinction Lynn Ovaska. Photo by Jessica Booton

Yeanwoo Park is the son of Kyunghee Chae and Young-shin Park. He will attend Johns Hopkins University and major in physics.  Yeanwoo named Lynn Ovaska, his AP European history teacher, as Educator of Distinction. In his essay Yeanwoo wrote, “Ms. O’s teaching placed meaning behind every event and concept. Historical figures felt like old friends, and revolutions as close as last Thursday night. When the curriculum ended at the 21st century, I began to realize how I fit into the course of history. For once, I had a clear image of who I wanted to strive to be… Thank you, Ms. O. You have taught me an enthusiasm for education I had never known.”

Kimberly Prada, left, and her Educator of Distinction Lindsey Montoya. Photo by Jessica Booton

Kimberly Prada is the daughter of Angela and Ben Prada. She will attend New Mexico State University and major in agricultural communications.  Prada chose Lindsey Montoya, her P.E. teacher and cross country coach, as Educator of Distinction. She wrote, “Mrs. Montoya has shown me that my fitness and health journey isn’t always going to be easy, but it will always be worth the work you put in. I have learned that you always have to give yourself a chance to recover in order to reach your goals. My educator of distinction is someone who I’ve looked up to for many years, and someone who I am incredibly grateful for. I appreciate all she does for me and everything she’s taught me, not only as a runner, but also as a young woman.”

Ming-Yuan Lo, right, and his ‘Educator of Distinction Suzy Kroesche. Photo by Jessica Booton

Ming-Yuan Lo is the son of Chun-Yin Chen and Li-Ta Lo. He will attend UCLA and major in mechanical engineering.  Lo chose Suzy Kroesche as Educator of Distinction. He wrote, “My elementary school GATE teacher, Suzy Kroesche, is my Educator of Distinction. Through my seven years at Aspen Elementary, the GATE program with her has had a major influence on who I am today. From solving logic puzzles to writing silly Shakespearean sonnets to assembling a medieval-age sailor’s journal, Ms. Kroesche’s classroom embodied learning through curiosity and joy. . .But one of the most important lessons I learned from Ms. Kroesche was to be myself–to embrace “nerdiness” and be uniquely eccentric. Ms. Kroesche’s tacky spirit wear, booming yet friendly voice, and constant smile never failed to light up my (and other kids’) days. While I often felt misplaced, suffocated, and bored in my normal classes, GATE swung open with encouragement and freedom.”

Congratulations to the following career technical scholarship winners and their educators of distinction:  

Julian Baros is the son of Tonie and Gabriel Baros.  He will attend Santa Fe Community College in the fall to study welding.  Julian selected Scott Pomeroy as Educator of Distinction.  “Mr. Pomeroy is the most charismatic, wild, entertaining, and enthusiastic teacher I have ever had. I feel his characteristics are all extremely important for any teacher to have, if they want to have a lasting impact on students like Mr. Pomeroy has had on me. It was Mr. Pomeroy who helped me decide what I want to do with my life after high school. I took his class wanting to learn more about auto mechanics, however I learned about more than just auto mechanics. Mr. Pomeroy changed my perspective on education and the career path I thought would be best for me”.

Chantel Bibeault – no photo available

Chantel Bibeault is the daughter of Gena and Mark Bibeault.  She will attend New Mexico State University in the fall to study radiology.  Chantel selected Audrey Juliani, her 6th grade teacher at Barranca, as Educator of Distinction.  About Juliani she wrote, “It all changed for me my 6th grade year. I walked in the first day of school to my home room teacher, Mrs. Juliani. I didn’t know what to expect or how much of an impact her class would have on me. She showed me how writing could be fun. . . Her daily questions would get me thinking about the world and what I could do to change the world to make it a better place. She influenced me to be nice to others and taught me hard work does pay off. . . I am forever thankful for what she has done for my education, as I don’t know where I would be without her class.”

LAPS Foundation is honored to award scholarships to these outstanding graduates and to recognize the teachers who have made such an important impact on their lives. 

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 $2 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.