2020 NMAS Outstanding Educator Award
The New Mexico Academy of Science (NMAS) presented two Outstanding Teacher Awards during the Annual Meeting / 2020 Research Symposium. These awards honor New Mexico science and math educators, and have been given since 1968. The Academy recognizes teachers who provide opportunities for students to succeed. Nominations are open to all science and math teachers in New Mexico. Each year the Academy honors two outstanding classroom or informal science teachers nominated from throughout New Mexico. The teachers are honored with awards at the NMAS Annual Meeting and also receive an award from our collaborative partner, the American Chemical Society.
In 2020, the Outstanding New Mexico Science Teachers are: Eva Abeyta and Lena Eddings.
Ms. Eddings holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University South Carolina and a Secondary Education License through the University of New Mexico. Prior to beginning her teaching career in Albuquerque, Ms. Eddings worked as a Civil Engineer in Lubbock, Texas; and Sumpter, South Carolina; and as a consultant for environmental clean-up at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM.
Currently Ms. Eddings is a Physics Instructor, and Science Department Chairperson at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, NM. Ms. Eddings states her classroom objectives — To promote a challenging and thought-provoking learning environment giving students the problem-solving skills that will inspire them to be inquisitive and push outside of their comfort zone to further their knowledge and life experiences.
At La Cueva High School Ms. Eddings has served on the school-wide Instructional Council, and the district-wide team to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. She has been recognized as an influential staff member and one who has made a difference in academic achievement by graduating seniors annually since 2014.
In the words of her nominator:
“(Ms. Eddings) has a unique teaching style: making her class not only informative but also proving that humor can help students learn better. Mrs. Eddings provides one-on-one support and meets students where they are in terms of their style of learning. She explains everything thoroughly in many different ways (lectures, lab demos, videos and modern multi-media shows). She is very genuine in the way she interacts with kids. She is very understanding; and even though she holds to a high standard of classroom etiquette, she is very supportive when a student needs support. Mrs. Eddings is open to allowing students to discuss topics beyond the planned lesson, especially as they pertain to real-world applications. Her engineering background provides her with an invaluable perspective into how to teach the students to be problem-solvers well beyond the Physics. Mrs. Eddings treats students with a high level of respect; and she is genuinely interested in their opinions. …..This year’s COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant restriction from in-person teaching has created extraordinary challenges for teachers, especially science teachers who cannot have students in their laboratories. In this very challenging situation, I have observed the tremendous extra efforts that Mrs. Eddings took to ensure optimal learning experience for her students.”
Ms. Abeyta is in her 25th year teaching with 13 of those in Los Alamos. Mrs. Abeyta has taught 15 years of Middle School, 5 years of Elementary, and 5 years of High School. She has taught varied subjects including: Physical Science, Life Science, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy & Physiology and all subjects including Spanish at the Elementary level. In this COVID environment she is teaching middle school science classes totally on-line.
Her first nominator, a colleague at her former school, Los Alamos Middle School, stated:
“I have worked with Eva Abeyta for the last 15+ years. She has held the science department chair of our department for many of those years. I have come to appreciate being a colleague with Eva. She is always level headed and sees the big picture of where science education is going. She is willing to try new curricula and adapt what she teaches to what her students need. After 15 years of working with Eva I have nothing but praise for her professionalism and science teaching capabilities.”
A second nominator, from her current school, Los Alamos Online Learning Academy, added these comments:
“Ms. Abeyta teaches 6th,7th, and 8th grade science this year totally online. Because of the new grade level, she is dealing with, and the totally online teaching, she had a steep learning curve. However, she has shown a great deal of ingenuity in teaching science effectively on line. She readily takes on a new challenge and embraces it. She is responsible and dependable and is responsive to her students’ parents. She ably heads up the district science fair. I know that in her previous school, as department chair, she also helped other teachers make the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards. In short, although she is an extremely experienced science teacher, she has never stopped learning herself and is not afraid of using new techniques to address new challenges.”