Four alumni were recently inducted into the Western New Mexico University School of Education Hall of Fame 2019 for their outstanding career achievements. The inductees Max G. Padilla, Emma V. Saucedo, Barney P. Brienza and Olivia L. Ogas.
“To be considered for selection into the WNMU School of Education Hall of Fame, WNMU alumni must have demonstrated a primary interest in classroom teaching and devoted the major portion of their careers to classroom teaching at the primary, secondary or higher education levels. He or she must have inspired in students a willingness to learn, as reflected in their ability to impart knowledge, instill confidence, and demonstrate respect for learning and students,” WNMU School of Education Associate Dean Dr. Debra Dirksen said.
Padilla received his Bachelor of Arts from WNMU in 1969. He is recognized for 38 years of dedicated teaching, mentoring and leadership. Padilla was also an assistant principal, school principal and coach. He led Jose O. Damian Elementary, a K-6 dual language school, earning designation as Distinguished Performance Title I Campus, Outstanding Migrant Performance Campus, Gold Performance in Reading and Math, and Texas Education Agency Exemplary Campus in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. The school was also honored by the Texas Business and Education Coalition (TBEC) and Just for The Kids (JFTK) as one of the top schools in the State of Texas in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Padilla is regarded for his professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to students. He is an active contributor to WNMU and was a founding member of the Mesilla Valley Chapter of the WNMU Alumni Association.
Saucedo received her Bachelor of Arts from WNMU in 1966 and his honored posthumously for 25 years of service teaching and coaching cheer. Saucedo was known for her sense of humor and public service. She was a role model for her students and colleagues, who worked tirelessly and unselfishly to benefit her students, both in class and through school activities, according to the nomination. Saucedo developed close relationships with her students and was a compassionate mentor and a source of inspiration. As a cheer coach, Saucedo led the way as a role model and built bonds that continued into her students’ adulthood.
“She was said to be the type of teacher who could jump right into her students’ eighth-grade minds and teach them in a way that met their needs,” Dr. Dirksen said.
Brienza received his bachelor’s in art in 1966 and earned a master’s in art in 1968. He spent 39 years teaching, mentoring and expanding students’ horizons. His life focuses were teaching and art, both reaching and creating using a variety of media. Brienza has been a creative and resourceful art teacher and professor of art, building art programs in glass and blacksmithing, and making many of the tools used in his classes and in his own work. He integrated the pedagogy of art education throughout each studio art class. Brienza developed collaborations between WNMU and University of Montana Western through an international craft workshop series in Silver City in 1978 and a faculty art exchange in 1993. Later, he facilitated community and cultural exchanges, which brought Montana students to the southwest, exposing them to Native American cultures and art.
“Brienza’s work as an artist, teacher and mentor has affected thousands of college students,” Dr. Dirksen said.
Ogas graduated from WNMU in 1964 then served for 35 years as a teacher, mentor and coach. Ogas was the type of teacher and leader who brought people together, promoting teamwork through after-school activities, curriculum development and teacher training, according to the nomination. She also participated on committees. Because of the academic changes and achievement gains during Ogas’ tenure as Principal, Vista Middle School in Las Cruces was named an Honor School by the State of New Mexico. She has also worked tirelessly to raise funds for more than 500 homeless students. Failure was not a choice she gave her students or athletes, according to the nomination, and the same was true of her.
“We are honored to have these outstanding teachers join the WNMU School of Education Hall of Fame,” Dr. Dirksen said.
The inductees were honored with a luncheon at WNMU in May. For any questions regarding the WNMU School of Education Hall of Fame, call 575-538-6418.