At Sandra’s memorial, there were people who came up to me and said they had run across the article I wrote upon Sandra’s retirement, and they appreciated it. It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I am thinking of Sandra, so I thought I would write, in the case it might be useful to someone again. It will be useful to me, to set it down. There are more goodbyes to say now.
The memorial on the front steps of Monte Vista was a bit of heaven. Many of the great people of the Monte Vista community showed up, people whom I consider my mentors, my friends. Elena and Heather did well to think of that, and Leith and Don at Southwest Research did right to make it happen. Thank you.
Bob Thomson, our counselor at the time had on his wall when I first came to Monte Vista a poster with a quote from Lee Iacoca, “In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and the highest responsibility anyone could have. ”
Sandra was not just a generalist, she had several areas of expertise, she was a renaissance person. When I came to Monte Vista, teachers were experts, and Sandra commanded the respect of that. Both Superintendent Winston Brooks and the- then Secretary of Education, Hannah Skandera, came in with the press, to Sandra’s classroom, during which she asked them a question, and after their answer, she told them they both were wrong. Time proved out that statement in every way.
Knowledge is power, the act of teaching is subversive; it is the re-distrbution of power to those who are not (yet) powerful. Sandra celebrated that, and that was the culture of Monte Vista, a culture I hope will forever remain.
This is a combination of information from an award nomination that Kathy Jones and I wrote last year, for Sandra, and an article I wrote upon her retirement for our newsletter, The Caring Connection. It is to recount her great achievement, which she turned into service to her community, to us:
• 40 Years of teaching in Acoma Pueblo and APS
• Taught in the teacher learning programs UNM
and The College of Santa Fe (20 years)
• Formed and directed “Network New Mexico”, in partnership with site community and business partners to install computer networks in 104 schools around New Mexico
• 1972 Founding member and currently on the board Southwest Research and Information Center, focusing of effects on health impacts on indigenous communities of the nuclear cycle.
• 1974 spearheaded development of cultural materials and operated printing/publishing books, including “Voices of our Elders, Books for Our Children”, and extended reading experience for Acoma and other pueblos in New Mexico.
• 1982 Author, Compiler, and Researcher, “The Growing Path”, and advocate for Pueblo traditional infant education
• 1991 Founder of Network New Mexico, with grassroots efforts, advocacy, and installation and design of computer networks in schools, 1991- ongoing,
• 1999 Awarded by the State Department of Education in recognition of her leadership in networking schools “contributions to the children of NM from the Educational Technology unit
• 1992 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development for focus on excellence award- innovation in computer technology in classrooms.
• 1994 NM computing teacher of the year from NM computer users in ed
• 1995 Ph.d in Educational Linguistics
• Featured by the Southwest Development Lab out of Austin TX
“Weaving Technology in the Classrooms”
• 2000 Awarded by the APS School Board in recognition of her commitment to technology in the classroom
• ES7 Telecommunications Contractor’s License in order to support Network New Mexico’s installation of school networks around the state
Sandra was an incredibly dynamic and knowledgeable professional. In her 40 years of teaching she taught preschool through college age students (for the College of Santa Fe and UNM), who carry her positive influence into their own lives to this day. She is fondly remembered and considered a legend at Monte Vista Elementary school, where she came to volunteer as a classroom tutor and consultant with APS network services, through last year.
In her early career she ran a printing press for Acoma pueblo, and continued publishing, literacy, and numeracy advocacy even into retirement.
As the printing press evolved, she did too, and in 1991, recognizing the potential of technology and the internet, and the potential to bridge the “Digital Divide”, she pioneered NetDays with her group Network New Mexico. The work of NNM was installing state of the art computer networks in 104 public, private and charter schools around the state using parent and community volunteer labor. Sandra led New Mexico’s NetDay effort from 1996 to 2001, donating her services as a licensed telecom contractor to design and plan the installation, and working with school groups to coordinate the volunteer effort. At the time Network New Mexico was in high gear, there were about 800 public, charter, and private schools. The quantity she and her organization touched would therefore be 12% of the total population of the state. Hundreds of hours of her time, her professional expertise, thousands of miles to all corners of the state in her truck, this effort at bottom-up school improvement and reform was recognized with plaques from the APS Board and State Public Education Department.
It started at Monte Vista, and I was one of the volunteers who helped go through attics and basements and drill through block to pull cable throughout this old building and to the other buildings on campus in 1991 for our LocalTalk network with a black and white Macintosh in each classroom. Monte Vista became the flagship for the district, being the first school, public or private, to have a campus-wide network in the state. Sandra became the de facto expert in networking, on top of her classroom duties, and the people whose job it was to network buildings welcomed Sandra’s expertise. Working under Sandra’s leadership, Monte Vista upgraded our network with the first campus-wide Ethernet network in APS in 1994, and then, in 2001, we replaced that cable with fiber direct to the classroom, ensuring upgradability of our school’s network performance for years to come by only changing out devices, not cabling. Interestingly, it was 17 years after our first network in 1991 before APS invested in our school’s network by upgrading our fiber backbone and building a telecom server room in the lab. By then bond funds had installed networks at all the other district schools and upgraded the 25 networks Sandra had installed with volunteers in APS schools.
Her leadership wasn’t limited to building the network infrastructure. Sandra inspired teachers like myself to teach children to be authors in the digital world rather than consumers, still and forever a value here at Monte Vista. She exported this vision across the 13 schools of the Albuquerque High cluster by writing professional development grants that brought in more than $3 million dollars over eight years to train teachers, and buy hardware and software. Her influence has reached across the state, and for the people who know, Sandra has been a force molding technology access and use for students, teachers, the district, and the state.
Sandra kicked off school networking across the state at a time when many school administrators felt that networking would only prove useful to their district’s business offices. All this while she rebuilt a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, raised two girls of her own, and remained a remarkable classroom teacher.
During her years as a teacher and during her retirement she has also served on the board of Southwest Research and Information Center, which advocates to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations.
—–(these things we wrote with her approval, and this is how we finished her nomination last year:)
Sandra farms garlic, continues to spin, dye, and weave her own yarn (a skill she passed to her students), works on construction and remodeling projects, consults on electrical installations, and nurtures her granddaughter to be an intelligent, strong and powerful woman such as she is.
Teachers, by the nature of the profession, hold a candle for the human race. Sandra was a flame.
Thank you Heather and Elena, and all of Sandra’s family, for sharing her with us.