BOSQUE FARMS — After 16 years in education working as a tutor, teacher and as a vice principal, Deanna Herrera accepted the head principal position at Bosque Farms Elementary School.
“Definitely, it has taught me a lot about the importance of culture in schools, especially emotional and academic development that we need for our kids to strive and be successful,” Hererra said about her four previous years as a vice principal at Bosque Farms Elementary. “We work through all those and really make sure that we are rigorous and intentional in our instruction.”
Herrera added this year she wants the school to focus on socio-emotional learning and building strong relationships between staff and students. One way she hopes to achieve this is through setting aside 15 minutes every morning for teachers to eat breakfast with their students and have relaxation time prior to getting the school day started.
“The teachers are really liking the opportunity to get to know the kids. I feel like it’s been a big hit. The kids really like it because it’s kind of a nice way to start their day,” Herrera said. “ It’s not (jumping) right into the busy work, but more like, let’s have a morning to sit around to get to know each other and allow the teachers to know them individually in the academic setting.”
Herrera said academic excellence is a priority she has for her students, however the ongoing pandemic still poses an issue as the school staff works to recover lost time in the classroom while also ensuring a COVID-19-safe learning environment.
“We are what we call a professional learning community school and so we really build on each other’s expertise — we share our ideas, we have some very intentional professional development planned as a school and also as a district,” she said. “We’ve worked with our school district to make sure that it’s focusing on all of our standards and that we have outlined specifically when we can hit those standards and make sure the kids are able to master them.”
Working in education had always been a goal for Hererra since she was younger, watching the impact her aunt had on the community in her role as a middle school teacher.
“Just watching her all the time with her kids in the classroom, and I saw the love that she had for her career,” Herrera said. “I knew that she was making a really big impact on the community that she lived in and also on kids. It just led me to believe that was something I really wanted to do.”
After graduating from the University of New Mexico with both a bachelor’s and master’s in education, Hererra began teaching fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grades at Los Lunas Elementary School. As time went on, she began to assume more leadership roles such as tutoring, eventually wanting to make the jump into administration.
She applied to be an academic coach within the school district, moving her to Katherine Gallegos Elementary after nine years in the classroom. She then began working towards her administrator’s license. After earning her license, she moved to Bosque Farms Elementary where she’s worked ever since.
“To be an educational leader means to really be a role model and to demonstrate that our character is something that, I believe, is reflected in our choices and actions,” Herrera said. “I try to make sure that everyday, the things that I do is making an impact on student success and wellbeing of our staff as well and try to make that promise everyday I come to work. Every day is a new day and we start fresh and really make sure that I am demonstrating that in all of my actions and behaviors.”
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.