Helping students reach for the future

Melissa Montoya of the Policy Office (ADMASER-IS) is devoted to raising a bright 11-year-old son whose passions include both basketball and math, but her dedication to young people goes beyond family. When she is not at her job, she is at her son’s school, Tony E. Quintana Elementary, in Sombrillo (part of the Española School District). The students there have come to think of her as part of the staff. “I’ve known some of them so long that they’re like my own kids,” she says.

“I’ve known some of them so long that they’re like my own kids”

Melissa’s time at the school is part of her mission to show Northern New Mexico students the future they could have and help them reach for it. In the elementary school, her mission starts with little things—making copies, bringing cupcakes—and expands to include the more-serious work of inspiring students with her own talks and enriching the curriculum with outside sources.

One group she brought to the school is Cornerstones Community Partnerships, which restores historical Northern New Mexico structures. Melissa explains, “I thought, how do you help elementary school students with hands-on math and science?” A Cornerstones session in the science of making adobe bricks fit the bill. It was a cold day, she says, so instead of working outside, “we took over a classroom. We put tarps on the floor, but the classroom still ended up covered in mud. I stayed until after 5:00 to clean it up.”

For the full interview, click here.