Belen Schools superintendent has a familial legacy in education

Lawrence Sanchez is the superintendent for Belen Consolidated Schools, a position he’s held for eight months. He has spent 25 years with BCS as a teacher and administrator. A resident of Peralta, Sanchez is married to Carolyn, and together they have a son, Keith, and daughter, Jacklynn. They have one granddaughter, Madilyn

 

Q

 What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

A

“One of the positives of living in Peralta is I have a 22-minute drive every day to and from work. On my way in to work, I plan my day. I review what I need to accomplish during the day.

“On my way home, I review my day. I think about the things I did well and what actions I take to make it go well. I also think about the things I could have done better and what I need to do to improve.”

 

Q

 What’s a myth about your profession you’d like to bust? 

A

 “I would like to bust the myth that educators don’t work hard because they have summers off. My grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles on both sides of my family were educators. My wife and daughter are educators.

“I can promise you that most educators spend their time off working on their craft, whether it be taking continuous education courses, participating in professional development opportunities or developing lessons for their students.”

 

Q

 What were you like in high school?

A

“I could be a pain for some teachers. I had a voice, and I wanted to be heard. I grew frustrated when some educators did not allow me to voice my opinion. Unfortunately, I did not always respond well to these educators, and I would get into trouble.

“My dad was as an administrator and my mom was a teacher in the district, so they always knew when I got into trouble which sometimes included getting paddled. I was very active also. I participated in chorus, football, basketball, track, National Honors Society and student council.”

Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez and his wife, Carolyn, earned their MBAs in Educational Leadership together at The University of New Mexico in 2018.

As an assistant coach, Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez, far right, watches the action from the sidelines during the Belen Eagles 2014 season with assistant coach Steve Contreras and head coach John Lerma, left.

Hanging out with his granddaughter, Madilyn, is one of Belen Schools Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez’ favorite ways to spend time.

Q

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom? 

A

 “The best advice I ever got was from my dad. When I was getting into trouble in high school for mouthing off to teachers, he taught me how to properly advocate for myself.

“It is advice that I put into use right away, and I stopped getting into trouble. It has served me well throughout my life, and it is advice that I have shared with my students as a teacher, coach and administrator.”

 

Q

 What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A

 “When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a doctor because my mom suffered from chronic migraines. It was my goal to find a cure for her headaches.

“I also wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys. I have been a Cowboys’ fan for as long as I can remember, which is funny because my dad hated the Cowboys. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher and a coach.”

 

Q

Who inspires you?

A

 “Students inspire me. When I am feeling blah, all I have to do is go to any of our school sites and be around kids. All of the students in our district are inspiring.

“The little ones inspire me because they are so excited about school and ready to learn. The older students inspire me because they want to change the world and are full of wonderful ideas. I love conversing with students.”

 

Q

 If you could work any other job for one day, what would it be and why?

A

“I do not have a specific job I would want to work. I would like to do a job that I know nothing about. Think of all the new things I could learn and how my appreciation for those who do that job would grow. I love to learn from those who have different careers and explore how I can apply the best practices of a different occupation to what I do every day.”

 

Q

What do you do in your free time?

A

 “It varies, depending on what I feel the need to do. I love to read, especially anything by Stephen King. When I was younger, I used to play men’s league basketball. I work out six days a week. I recently discovered cornhole, and I enjoy playing that. I love all types of music. I used to deejay a bit when I was younger.”

 

Q

What’s something about you most people don’t know? 

A

 “One thing most people don’t know about me is that a member of my family has been involved continuously in public education in New Mexico since 1938. My grandfather began his teaching career in 1938 and was superintendent of the Hondo Valley for almost 30 years.

“Both my parents were teachers. My father was an administrator in Moriarty and Hondo. My mother put in 32 years in the classroom ranging from 12th grade all the way down to kindergarten. My wife is a teacher, as is my daughter. I also have an aunt and two uncles who spent many years as educators.”

 

Q

What three books would you to take to a deserted island? 

A

“The Bible, “The Stand” and “It” both by Stephen King. I would take the Bible so I could stay grounded and not fall into despair since I am on a deserted island by myself. I love anything Stephen King writes, and I would want to be able to read for enjoyment while waiting to be rescued.”

 

Q

 You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do? 

A

“Difficult question. I would like to say that first I would try to find the owner of the ticket. If that were not possible, I would cash the ticket.

“I would finish paying off our house. I would buy modest homes for both my children. I would set up scholarship funds for my granddaughter and any future grandchildren. Finally, I would set up an endowment fund that would benefit Belen (Consolidated) Schools in the future.”

 

Q

Who is your best friend and why?

A

 “My best friend is my wife. When we were first married, we lived in Illinois because I got a job up there. We knew no one, and while we did make friends, we also became each other’s best friend.

“As a former coach and now an administrator, I usually get home after 6 p.m. on most workdays. That schedule does not create opportunities for quality time with my wife, so I try to devote the majority of my weekends to spending time with her doing different activities.

“My wife and I also earned MBAs in Educational Leadership in 2018 from the Anderson School at The University of New Mexico. Even though we met at New Mexico Highlands University in 1985, this was the first time we had ever taken college classes together. It was a blast!”

 

Q

What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?

A

 “The song that I sing to myself is ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ by Tim McGraw. My son, who was 17 at the time, introduced me to the song when I was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2007. The lyrics of this song are a reminder to appreciate every day we have on this Earth.”

 

Q

 Where is your happy place, and why? 

A

 “My happy place is being any place with my wife. She is my best friend. She has supported me through career changes, life changes and professional changes.

“When I moved into administration, the time requirements associated with the job were no sweat to her because of all the years she had experienced as a coach’s wife. Being successful as a coach and being successful as an administrator both require a huge time commitment, and my wife has never complained. I am blessed to have her as my biggest supporter.”

 

Q

Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today? 

A

 “Yes, I have. In 2007 I was diagnosed with cancer and given five to seven years to live based on the statistics. That was a very humbling experience for me. At first, I felt sorry for myself and had my very own pity party on a daily basis.

“Then, one day, it dawned on me that despite my diagnosis, I was blessed because I had friends and family who prayed for me, supported me and loved me. That gave me a whole new outlook on whatever time I had left in this world. I became less goal-oriented and more interested in taking actions that bettered my community.”

 

Q

What teacher had the greatest impact on you? 

A

 “I have two teachers who had an impact on me. One was my mother, who spent her whole career as a classroom teacher. I learned a lot from my mom on how to be effective in the classroom. My mom would spend her free time during the school year and the summer creating curriculum for her students because she wanted to be outstanding at her craft.

“As an administrator, my dad had a huge impact on me. My dad was excellent at building relationships with students, especially those who may be struggling with school. I use many techniques I learned from observing my dad when building relationships with students.”

 

Q

 What is your favorite movie scene and why?

A

 “The scene in ‘Coach Carter,’ where the coach locks the athletes out of the gym and postpones the season until the players meet his academic standards is one of my favorites. I value sports and appreciate the impact they can have on a student’s life.

“However, we must remember that the goal of school is to earn an education. If a student-athlete does not take care of their grades, they will not be successful on the field or court.”

Q

If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be and why?

A

 “I would love to have dinner with former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. His ‘Pyramid of Success’ provides a foundation for high achievement in life. The impressive part of coach Wooden’s legacy was that his players not only had successful athletic careers but also experienced success after their playing days were over. The players attribute their success to the lessons they learned from coach Wooden.”

 

Q

What are you most proud of? 

A

 “I am proud that no matter the role I have filled while working for Belen (Consolidated) Schools, I have strived to do my best and have a positive impact on the lives of our students and athletes.

“I am proud of my two children and what they have accomplished so far. I am proud to be married to my wife who has spent 25 years in the classroom and is still going strong.”

 

Q

How would you like to be remembered?

A

 “I would like to be remembered as a man of integrity who was not afraid to make difficult, and sometimes unpopular, decisions because they were the best for the team, the school or the district. I would like to be remembered as a person who valued all he interacted with and who took the time to let them know how important they are.”
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