Western New Mexico University inducted four alumni into the School of Education’s Hall of Fame this spring. Honored for their exceptional professional careers and for the care they showed their students, the 2018 recipients; were Daniel C. Castillo, ’85, of Silver City; Shelby L. Alexander, ’79, ’81, of Grants; Arturo Perales, ’74, ’77, of El Paso, Texas; and Joe Edward Quintana, ’85, ’91, of Glendale, Ariz.
“They exemplify dedication to something beyond self,” WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard said of the inductees at the Hall of Fame luncheon on Friday, May 11.
“This university has a long and proud tradition of preparing teachers, and this year’s recipients represent the quality of educators WNMU produces,” said Associate Dean of WNMU’s School of Education Dr. Debra Dirksen.
Castillo, a retired Silver High School math teacher, was recognized for 27 years of service, teaching, mentorship, leadership and advocacy. “In Mr. Castillo’s classroom, students felt driven but comfortable,” Dr. Dirksen said.
When addressing the crowd of WNMU faculty, past inductees, and guests, Castillo described the time he asked the school nurse for a list of students who might not receive Christmas gifts, hoping he could brighten their holidays. “She gave me a list of 82 students who asked for really basic items,” he said.
In response, Castillo founded a fund to stock an empty classroom at Silver High with personal hygiene products, school supplies and food for distribution to students in need. That was 15 years ago. The project has continued, even since Castillo retired in 2012.
A math teacher and chess club sponsor in El Paso, Perales introduced his students to practical uses for math, teaching them textbook concepts by measuring fertilizer and balancing books. “Many in my classroom drank from the fountain of knowledge,” he said, “while others just gargled.”
Perales also shared with the audience in WNMU’s dining hall some of what he imparted to his at-risk students, saying, “The value of a person is more important than his success,” and, “The obstacle we face is not as important as our attitude toward it.”
Alexander spent more than 33 years as a science teacher, department chair, student club sponsor and teacher mentor in northwest New Mexico. He served as the local and regional director of the Four Corners Science Fair for a quarter century. “My proudest achievement is seeing former students coming back to judge science fairs and contributing to something that was important to them,” he said.
Quintana told the crowd about all the times his mother introduced him as a superintendent while he was still a novice elementary teacher. Over his 33-year career, Quintana did move up the administrative ladder, eventually becoming a superintendent and recruiting teachers from southwest New Mexico to the Arizona schools he oversaw.
Thanking his wife and children for their support, Quintana said, “They’ve always understood that my career has been more than a job.”
Ninety-eight alumni have been inducted into WNMU’s School of Education Hall of Fame since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 1985.
Making up the Spring 2018 School of Education Hall of Fame selection committee were Drs. Linda Hoy, Debra Dirksen, Barbara Taylor, Andy Hernandez, and Isaac Brundage, Associated Students of WNMU President Tim Stillman and alumni representative Linda Call.