LOS LUNAS — The School of Dreams Academy Governing Council recently welcomed two new governing body members following the resignation of Catherine Smith, a seasoned educator and council member.
Smith submitted her formal letter of resignation to the council on Sept. 11, and the council unanimously accepted it at the Sept. 25 governing council meeting.
“I want to thank every one of you for giving me the opportunity to serve this fine institution in this capacity,” Smith said in her letter addressed to the council. “After nearly 93 years on this planet, with over 75 of them spent working for teachers and students to improve the value of education in New Mexico and throughout the United States, I am proud to say this has been my final destination.”
Smith served on the council for eight years and was among those who signed the original SODA school charter. She taught for 38 years in Grant County and was a part of the New Mexico Board of Education and New Mexico Public Education Commission, serving 25 years between the two.
SODA Superintendent Mike Ogas said Smith has done a lot for the school and she is an education icon within New Mexico.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to work alongside someone with a legacy like Catherine Smith,” said Ogas. “She’s dedicated over 75 years to public service and is a great mentor with a wealth of information. People like her don’t come around very often, so we’re thankful for her contributions.”
After accepting Smith’s resignation, the council unanimously approved the induction of new council members, Kerra Howe and Lacey Cheney. Magistrate Judge Miles Tafoya conducted the oaths of office for the two new members at the meeting.
Cheney worked as an assistant to a principal at a community school in Albuquerque and later as a senior legal secretary for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. She is currently a victim advocate with the DA’s office.
Cheney, who has children attending SODA, said she enjoys the school for its smaller class sizes and because it’s more family oriented than larger public schools.
“I’m really grateful that I was chosen,” Cheney said. “I feel like my children’s education is something that is very important, and I want to make sure the kids are getting what they need.”
Howe worked at SODA from 2009 to 2018. She wore a lot of hats over the years, working in everything from administration to information technology. She also created the parent-teacher committee and served on several boards and committees for SODA, including the SODA Education Foundation. She also served in SODA’s Public School Facility Authority committee and played an instrumental role in getting the school to its current location.
Howe left SODA to run a transportation and logistics company with her husband, but she missed the involvement with the students and being a part of the school.
“Both of my kids graduated from here, and I’m very familiar with the school and their policies and procedures,” said Howe. “I always wanted to get back into the school to donate my time or sponsor it in some manner. I’m excited to be back and be involved with the school and what they’re doing.”
Ogas said he is pleased with the selection of new council members and is excited that Howe and Cheney want to serve in this capacity.
“Howe has been with us since the inception, and Cheney has worked hard to get to know the mission of the school,” said Ogas. “I think they’re going to do a tremendous job of helping us move the school forward.”
Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.