Melanie Maynes Alfaro, who earned her master’s in education from Western New Mexico University, recently won New Mexico’s 2017-18 Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 cash prize.
One of just 44 teachers in the nation to win the award for 2017-18, Alfaro was honored at an assembly at Deming Intermediate School in November.
During New Mexico Secretary of Education Christopher Ruszkowski’s tour of schools around the state, he stopped at the school where Alfaro teaches sixth-grade math and introduced senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, Dr. Jane Foley, who surprised Alfaro with the award.
Milken Educators are selected in their early to midcareers for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Alfaro is now one of the 2,700 teachers, principals and specialists making up the National Milken Educator Network. She will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., in March 2018 and learn how to maximize her leadership role and advance effectiveness among students.
“Melanie Alfaro gives every student her time, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group,” Foley said. “Melanie has outstanding strategies and outcomes in the classroom, and we recognize her determination to influence mathematics instruction throughout the district as well. She is working to make sure every math student succeeds.”
Using student assessments, video instruction and collaborative projects as part of her teaching strategy, Alfaro engages learners and gives them opportunities to understand and grasp math; her students lead the grade level in math proficiency, according to the Milken Educator Awards announcement.
Alfaro immerses her students in data, setting individual and whole-class goals, charging students with monitoring their own progress, and holding family classes to ensure parents are fully equipped to support their children’s efforts in math. Deming has jumped two letter grades and 16 percentage points in end-of-year math assessments in the past few years, the Milken Educator Awards announcement said.
“Melanie is changing our students’ lives by assuming full responsibility for her academic outcomes and constantly refining her craft — her teaching is poetry in motion and finds the right balance of both the art and science of teaching. She is a wonderful ambassador for our profession. Her students are on the rise—and this honor and award are well-deserved,” Ruszkowski said.