Three-Time WNMU Alum Wins Prestigious Education Award

Fifth grade Deming teacher recognized as a Milken Educator December 12, 2023 (Photo courtesy of the Milken Educator Awards.)

© Western New Mexico University

A Deming educator and WNMU alumna has won the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Magali Gomez (BSW ’12, MSW ’17, MAT ’23) earned the award because she has “established herself as a steadfast teacher leader and inspiring mentor who works every day to support her colleagues and achieve notable academic and personal growth for her students,” according to a news release from the Milken Family Foundation, which sponsors the awards.

The Milken Educator Awards target early- to mid-career teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership. The award comes with an unrestricted $25,000 prize.

In addition to the monetary award, recipients join a cadre of other Milken Educators and receive powerful mentorship opportunities.

Gomez works at Ruben S. Torres Elementary in Deming, where she teaches fifth grade students bilingually in both Spanish and English, and teaching in a small town has structured her ambitions as an educator. “My goal is to bring more attention to the unique challenges faced by rural schools and to foster initiatives that promote inclusivity, resources, and opportunities,” she said.

“Every student, regardless of their location, deserves access to a high-quality education,” continued Gomez, “I am committed to working towards closing the gap and ensuring that my students and those in similar settings have the tools and support they need to thrive academically and beyond.”

Gomez credits her own education at WNMU for helping her along the way. Her graduate program in bilingual education, she indicated, gave her “instructional strategies to ensure I provide high quality and equitable instruction for my students. This program included cultural competency which supports educators in their understanding of the socioeconomic struggles . . . and how these factors affect the academic and social emotional performance of our students.”

Gomez said she especially appreciated how the MAT program at WNMU emphasized that “language acquisition looks differently in the areas of brain development, culture, and social background,” she said, adding that she uses this knowledge “to advocate for a safe, cultural, and equitable learning experience for all students in our district.”

In addition, she said, the program allowed her to gain, “practice in the art of dissecting various curriculums and determining what modifications were needed to ensure equitable learning experience.”

Gomez learned she had won the award at a school assembly on December 12. On hand to recognize her achievement were Dr. Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President, New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Dr. Howie Morales and Dr. Arsenio Romero, New Mexico Secretary of Public Education.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to receive the Milken Educator Award,” said Gomez, “This recognition is not just a personal achievement but a testament to the dedication of all educators striving for excellence. I intend to leverage this platform to shine a spotlight on the invaluable work being done in rural schools and to advocate for equitable learning experiences for all students.”

Gomez continued, “This award serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing educational disparities, and I am passionate about using this platform to make a meaningful difference in the lives of students in rural communities. I am dedicated to amplifying their voices and advocating for the resources necessary to create a truly equitable learning environment. Together, we can make a profound impact and create positive change in our educational system.”

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