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Meet Our Teacher Leaders

Ashley Carpenter
Teaching Policy Fellow
Special Education teacher
MESD Early Childhood Center
Moriarty-Edgewood School District

Ashley Carpenter is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. She is a special education preschool teacher in a developmentally delayed 3-year-old classroom at the Moriarty-Edgewood School District Early Childhood Center in Moriarty, New Mexico. She collaborates with other teachers for classroom curriculum development and co-manages the school’s Facebook page. She has taught special education for six years. She has worked on leading staff appreciation committees, coordinated in-house professional development opportunities and has been on school site leadership committees for curriculum, funding, and program development. She earned her BSEd Dual License in Special and Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and an MA in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Grand Canyon University, Phoenix.

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Aja Currey
Senior Fellow
Special education teacher
Rio Gallinas Charter School
West Las Vegas Schools

Aja Currey is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Senior Fellow. She is the head special education teacher for K-8th grades at Rio Gallinas Charter School for Ecology and the Arts, where she also sponsors the K-Kids Community Service Club and the Sunshine Staff Appreciation committee. She is a member of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Partners in Policymaking Program. Aja graduated from NM Highlands University with a BA in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and a BA in Special Education and completed a master’s degree in educational leadership at NMHU. 

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Sarah Fresquez-Pena
Teaching Policy Fellow
Preschool Special Education Teacher
Nye Early Childhood Center
Santa Fe Public Schools

Sarah Fresquez-Pena is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. She is a preschool special education teacher at Nye Early Childhood Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she serves on the leadership team. She is a Level III teacher with eight years of teaching experience in special education grades PreK to 5th grade in highly structured classroom program models for children with autism. Sarah provides professional development to district colleagues as a lead teacher for her district's annual 5 Day Autism Training. Sarah earned her BA in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of New Mexico and an MA in Special Education from the University of New Mexico.

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Danielle Kusmak headshot
Senior Fellow
5th grade teacher
Tulorosa Schools

Danielle Kusmak is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Senior Fellow On the forefront of science and technology, Danielle Kusmak connects her 5th grade classroom in the Tularosa Basin to pistachio production deeply rooted in providing rigorous educational experiences not only to support students but for stakeholders in the future of a highly qualified workforce. Danielle facilitates professional development for K-12 teachers, collaboratively serves as a New Mexico Teach Plus Senior Fellow, provides leadership on the board of New Mexico Science Teachers Association and New Mexico Partnership for Math and Science Education. One of her most prestigious accomplishments includes leading on the American Pistachio Growers Board while chairing the “Lead-On” committee focused on industry leadership opportunities in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Nominated as an Outstanding Agriculture Teacher of the Year, with her most recent servant leadership position in the NMPED Student Success Task Force, Danielle has been positively impacting student growth for the past 10 years in Elementary Education as well as High School Biology, Agriculture, Ag Mechanics, and Horticulture. Danielle received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education at New Mexico State University and attained her Master in Educational Administration at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

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Joe Dan M. Lovato headshot
Senior Fellow
Math Interventionist and STEAM-H
Mark Armijo Academy
Albuquerque Charter School

Joe Dan M. Lovato is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Senior Fellow. He is an educator at Mark Armijo Academy in Albuquerque. Along with teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science at the school, he also taught the 8th grade Next-Step class, a STEAM-H elective with a focus on agriculture and climate change, and incentive electives in cryptozoology, extraterrestrial/paranormal investigations, and a guitar/songwriting workshop. The New Mexico Public Education Department recognized Joe Dan as a finalist for the 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. He earned a BA in Education and a MA in Education (Curriculum and Instruction) as well as received his Administration Licensure from Eastern New Mexico University. He possesses a Level III-A license in both K-8 Elementary and Pre K-12 Special Education along with endorsements in Science and Health.


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Tennise Lucas headshot
Senior Fellow
High School Attendance and Behavior Coach, Instructional Coach, 9th grade level lead
Mission Achievement and Success Charter School
Charter School

Tennise Lucas is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Senior Fellow. She is the High School Attendance and Behavior Coach, Instructional Coach, and 9th grade level lead at Mission Achievement and Success in Albuquerque. She participates in the Secretary Teacher Advisory committee alumni, and is a New Mexico Teacher Leader Network Ambassador. She has been nominated as a Teacher of Character for the last five years. Tennise received an MEd from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her New Mexico Teacher Certification is from ENMU, administrative training through the National Institute of Student Leadership, and administrative certification through ENMU.

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Aimee Parra
Teaching Policy Fellow
Kindergarten Teacher
Mesilla Elementary
Las Cruces Public Schools

Aimee Parra is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. She is a kindergarten teacher leader at Mesilla Elementary in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Aimee holds a Level Three Instructional Leader License. She serves as an instructional leader as well as a Canvas Capitan/Virtual platform mentor for her school campus. She also facilitates a Ballet Folklorico dance club for the students at her school. Aimee is most passionate about helping her students embark on the journey of learning and about the personal growth each child makes in her classroom. She holds a BA in Dance and MA in Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Education from New Mexico State University.

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Kelly Pearce
Teaching Policy Fellow
6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade teacher
Lincoln Middle School
Rio Rancho Public Schools

Kelly Pearce is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. She is the federal programs instructional coordinator in Rio Rancho Public Schools, supporting K-12 teachers and students. In addition, she is a New Mexico Public Education Department teacher ambassador. Pearce was the 2019 Teacher of the Year for DreamWakers, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization that brings virtual guest speakers into classrooms, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher of the Year for New Mexico in 2013. She earned her BA in journalism from Arizona State University, her MA in elementary education from Western New Mexico University, and her administrative license from New Mexico Highlands University.

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Margaret Silva
Teaching Policy Fellow
7th Grade New Mexico History
Jefferson Middle School
Albuquerque Public Schools

Margaret Silva is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. She teaches 7th grade New Mexico History and is the IC Chairperson at Jefferson Middle School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Previously, she taught New Mexico History and inclusion/general education English Language Arts. While there, Margaret fulfilled the roles of ELA Department Chairperson, IC Facilitator, certified Data Wise school lead, and supported the school as the APS Accomplished Teaching Grant lead and budget manager. Margaret has also served as a mentor teacher for students at the University of New Mexico. She received her BA in Elementary Education with a focus in History and Literature from the University of New Mexico.

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Robin Stevens
Teaching Policy Fellow
6th grade ELA teacher
Highland Middle School
Hobbs Municipal Schools

Robin Stevens is a 2020 Teach Plus New Mexico Teaching Policy Fellow. Robin is a 6th grade English Language Arts teacher at Highland Middle School in Hobbs, New Mexico. With teaching experience in districts across New Mexico and time as an elementary principal, Robin is passionate about elevating our education system through collaborative, supportive, continuous improvement processes involving all stakeholders. Robin has served on the Secretary’s Teacher Advisory and completed the National Institute for School Leadership’s (NSIL) Executive Development Program. Robin earned her BA in Elementary Education from University of the Southwest, MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Phoenix, and administrative credentials through NISL at Eastern New Mexico University.

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