A local retired educator was recently inducted into the National Education Association-New Mexico Hall of Fame.
Retired Belen Consolidated Schools teacher Belinda Martinez, along with six other New Mexico teachers, was honored as an inductee last month.
Martinez was nominated for the honor by two other association members, Sharon Morgan, of Bosque Farms, and Angie Lucero, of Albuquerque.
“I was very excited just have been nominated. Then when I got the call I was chosen…wow,” Martinez said. “It was a wonderful thing to hear. I was totally blown away. I am extremely grateful and humbled to be the recipient of such a prestigious award.”
During her 24 year career with BCS, Martinez taught gifted and special education students at Belen middle and high schools.
“Teaching is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Martinez said.
She started as a teaching assistant with Belen Consolidated Schools, and deciding the profession definitely suited her, enrolled at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus to earn her degree.
Martinez graduated from UNM main campus in Albuquerque in 1999 cume laude with a bachelor of science in education.
“So, the Valencia campus is near and dear to my heart,” she said.
Community members approached her about running for the board, Martinez said, and her love of education made it an easy decision.
Martinez was elected to her first term on the UNM-Valencia board of advisors in 2003, and was just re-elected to a new term in November.
“I though it would be something I would really enjoy, and I do,” she said.
Martinez said to be a good teacher, you have to enjoy what you are doing.
“Your students have to mean something to you. It’s important who your teacher is,” she said. “I am so proud of my students. I have seen them come across the state and shook their hands at UNM-Valencia graduations.
“I’m so excited for them — they got up there and did it. I want to thank my students for enriching my life, and forever having a place in my heart.
“Teachers need to have to have a heart to teach. NEA provides the tools, is up to date on what going on in education, and provides support and inspiration for our profession.
I hope the association continues with its vision of a great public school (system) for every student, and its mission to advocate for education professionals and unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and independent world.”
In addition to teaching, Martinez was the BMS cheer/drill coach, as well as a junior varsity and varsity cheer coach at the high school.
Under her direction, the varsity BHS cheer team took the first place in the first New Mexico Expo State Fair Parade.
As a member of NEA, Martinez graduated from the association’s Essential Leadership Cadre, was elected to EdPAC to represent the Central Region for eight years, attended NEA delegate councils, and worked actively in lobbying the Belen Consolidated Schools board of education to restore collective bargaining rights in the district.
She was also an association representative and served as vice president of the Belen chapter for 11 years.
There were seven retired teachers from across the state inducted into the NEA Hall of Fame this year.
From the Central Region were Martinez and Mollianne Robison; Duane Shields from the Northeast/North Central Region; posthumously, Elizabeth Samaniego, from the Southeast Region, and Theresa Ybarra, Gloria Avalos Randles and Patrick Sanchez, from the Southwest Region.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.