LOS LUNAS — Some Los Lunas schools are turning a trip to the principal’s office into a good thing.

Both Valencia High School and Sundance Elementary School are two schools in the district which offer calls to parents when a student has improved their grades, been good in class or just shown general excellence while at school.

“It can range from behavior to academics to showing kindness,” said Venessa Tregembo, principal at Sundance Elementary, of the calls. “I give the parents a call and let them know that their child has done a good job and we appreciate having them as one of our students. It’s always very well received.”

Tregembo said Sundance has been positively reinforcing their students’ good behavior and academic performance with these phone calls since 2017, when she was still an assistant principal at the school.

Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photo
Sundance Elementary Principal Venessa Tregembo makes a call to a student’s parent to share the news that their child has been doing a good job in class.

One of the calls that stood out to Tregembo was a mom who asked if the principal could also give the student’s father a call to share the good news. The father was stationed in another state at the time.

“She said it would mean a lot for him to know that [they] are doing OK, and not only is she doing OK, she’s doing a really good job in school,” Tregembo said.

Tregembo makes about 10 to 20 of these good news calls a month, complete with a certificate given to the students to memorialize their accomplishments.

“For students, it gives them that motivation and pride in their efforts,” she said. “For staff, it also allows that element for motivation because the parents will usually say something amazing about the teacher.

“I always make sure if I hear that to let the teacher know. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving because the kids have that sense of pride and I’m able to share positive feedback from home back to the teacher as well.”

Jennifer Otero, one of the newer assistant principals at Valencia High School, suggested the school also start making the positive phone calls to parents after reading about their impact on morale in a teaching blog.

“I haven’t seen a global effect, really, but it makes a difference to that kid and it makes a difference to that family,” Otero said. “I’ve seen it on a more individual basis.”

She added they put a small twist on the original concept by calling the student into their office and making the call from the students’ phone.

“Mom will answer when they call,” she said. “But, if we are calling from the office they will think it’s a robocall … and so they don’t really pick up, or they let it go to voicemail.”

Otero said Albert Aragon, the VHS principal, focuses on honoring students who have turned themselves around and, “who have started off on a rough path and are now working towards being that kind of good Valencia High School student.”

“To know that an adult cares and an adult at this time in their life can make a big difference and positive effect on their future,” she said.

One of the calls that stood out to Otero was for a student who consistently put in the extra mile to ensure he does well in school.

“I talked to the mom and she said, ‘He doesn’t go to bed until he’s done with his homework. He finishes his chores. He does what he needs to do and he’s committed to being a good student,’” Otero said. “You think some of these students are struggling with learning or that they don’t put in the effort. This kid is putting in the effort everyday. So, those stories are great.”

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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. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.