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By Stephani Dingreville

Three hundred and ten students are getting back to a new normal at Corrales’ only public school, where some new programs are being developed. Corrales Elementary is following all Albuquerque Public School guidelines for a safe re-entry. According to Principal Liv M. Baca-Hochhausler, “APS has installed ultra-violet air purifiers in each classroom as a mitigation strategy, each classroom also has exterior windows and/or doors that are kept open to ensure adequate ventilation.

“The generous Corrales Elementary PTA has purchased wearable microphones for each teacher to assist in saving their voices as we are all wearing masks and it can be difficult to speak loud enough (over the air purifiers, swamp coolers and muffling masks) for our students to hear.” Along with this new technology for the teachers, each student has been issued his or her own technical device, iPads for kindergarteners and first graders and Chromebooks for second through fifth graders. 

Teacher Eugenia Danen, who has a bachelor’s degree in science, has fully revamped the school’s “STEAM Den,” and will be providing both technology and science instruction for all of the students. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering arts and math. Special Education teachers Ursula Kelly and Nancy Felter-Shelton are working to develop a school-wide enrichment model (SEM), ensuring that all students receive opportunities to extend and enrich their learning.

Last fall, Principal Baca-Hochhausler  was awarded a $5,000 grant from the APS Education Foundation with a proposal she wrote entitled “Citizen Science, STEAM and Stewardship.”

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The award was spent on supplies for teachers and students to complete naturalist projects while in a remote setting, and while back in person this year, students and teachers were provided with “naturalist kits” to use in the classroom or at home.  Kelly says: “Nancy and I developed our SEM program around the concept of being a naturalist because it meets kids where they are and makes it more academic and formal.  It also gets kids off-screen and into the real world, ideally.”

According to the school counselor, Gabrielle Anzures, the students are “happy to be back in school with their teachers and friends,” and are “weathering change better than any of us imagined.” Anzures is working to put together self-regulation kits for the students this year since she has seen a bit more “need for re-direction with care and compassion for student behavior, because they crave attention.” Donations for this effort can be made by calling the school.

Parents are also happy to have their children back in school. Kristen Coffman, Corraleña and mother to two girls in kindergarten and second grade, said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to have our kids back in person at Corrales. The girls have transitioned well. They are used to wearing masks and Corrales has facilitated a welcoming and safe environment thus far.” She is “optimistic that [the kids] will be able to get through this school year with minimal interruptions to time in the classroom with [their] amazing teachers.”

School Principal Baca-Hochhausler said she “would like to bestow a heartfelt thank you to our village community for continuing to entrust us with their children’s safety and education.  We are the only public school in the village, and I think I speak for each and every staff member when I say that we all feel truly blessed to be at Corrales Elementary. 

“And, thank you for your patience when traffic gets backed up on Corrales Road during drop-off and pick-up!”

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