By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Leslie Lewis, who teaches at Portales Junior High and Broad Horizons Educational Center, won the Newspapers in Education Teacher of the Year Award for Roosevelt County.
Lewis teaches a Taking Charge and Life Skills class for seventh- and eighth-graders at the PJHS and Anatomy and Physiology at BHEC. Lewis said she has been teaching at the junior high and Broad Horizons for three years.
“I want them to plan for their futures and have some direction,” Lewis said. “It’s important they have self-esteem. I find a story they can relate to. A lot of them want to see it (newspaper) as soon as they come into class. They usually find something interesting to them and then they find out that someone else in the class has read the same story and they can relate to them. They try to know more of the story so they can recite it.”
Lewis is able to gain the students’ trust and they appreciate the influence she has on their lives.
“I feel I can trust her, because everything is confidential,” Adriana Calbert, a seventh-grader, said. “She solves a lot of our problems. She’ll talk it out with us. I think she deserves it (award).”
The award is given to a teacher that the selection committee finds best uses newspapers in his or her curriculum.
Research published by the Newspaper Association of America states that on average, students who use the newspaper in school scored 10 percent better on standardized reading test than did students who did not.
“It’s really hard at this age (junior high),” Steve Harris, PJHS principal, said. “I think it’s really good using newspapers. She (Lewis) deals with issues in newspapers. It helps her point out the consequences of the decisions people make. It helps her highlight the successes, also.”
Minority students, those from low-income areas, and those who do not speak English at home scored 30 percent better than their peers who did not use the newspaper.
“Reading newspapers is crucial to being an informed citizen,” Lynn Berry, NIE coordinator for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico, said “You need to know what is happening in your community as well as the larger world to be able to be an effective participant in decisions that affect you and the people you care about.”
The Newspaper in Education program classroom copies are paid for by the Southwest Dairy Farmers Association.
J’mi Helfin, a third-grade teacher from James Bickley Elementary in Clovis, won the NIE award in Curry County, while Glenda Sours, who teaches Communications and Agriculture at Tucumcari High School, won the NIE award for Quay County.
Alfreda Sigala, a James Elementary teacher, won the NIE award in Roosevelt County last year.
For information about the program contact Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org