Spotlight on ATF Members in Action

All over our district, members of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation are stepping up to build online lessons and provide social and emotional stability for students. We want to thank all APS employees who have risen to the challenge of distance learning on the fly by shining the spotlight on some of these dedicated, innovative educators.

Julie Rombach-Kendall (Mrs. R-K), Music Teacher/ATF Member at John Baker ES

“Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water”

As teachers, most of us thought our students would be better than us at navigating online platforms. After all, they visit Tik Tok and Instagram regularly.  Some of them even have their own YouTube channels. However, many students are having to learn the online platforms along with us.  They need moral support!

Music is soul food, and we all need it now more than ever.  After thinking about how to create some stress relief, a morning Dance Break and Friday afternoon Karaoke Party came to mind.  It has provided an online place to unwind and have some fun with the personal touch of knowing the hostess.

Every Wednesday morning at 10:30 AM, I host an online Dance Break through Google Meet. A meeting code is posted on my JBES music, their general education classroom and our library Google pages 5 or so minutes before it starts.  Students of all ages are encouraged to come for a dance or two or stay for the full 30 minutes. The dances are meant to be a break, so we do not spend time going over specific moves unless it is a line dance. With the line dances, we go over the moves quickly and then do it.

Every Friday afternoon at 3 PM, we have a 5th Grade Karaoke Party Google Meet.    They are instructed to use two devices:  1) for the Karaoke song and 2) for us to see and hear them. Their songs have to be without swear words, no sexual references (romantic is fine) and no references to getting drunk or high. At first, I thought I was doing it for the kids.  It became clear though after hearing their wonderful singing that it was feeding my soul as much as theirs. There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of children singing. It has become a great outlet for our students who love to sing. Everyone has been supportive and encouraging like a bridge over troubled water.


                     Allie Bailey, 5th Grade Teacher/ ATF Member from John Baker ES

Allie Bailey and the 5th Grade Team at John Baker created a read-aloud activity to engage their students based on the popular TV show THE MASKED SINGER. They dubbed their creation THE MASKED READERS. JBES staff donned costumes and created virtual avatars, read books to students, and let them solve the mystery. KOB-TV, Channel 4, featured them on their newscast. See the report here.


Alison Bowles, ATF Fed Rep for Tierra Antigua Elementary

I have been teaching third graders about character traits after reading a story to my class. Students were asked to use text evidence to support their thinking and submit their answers via Google Slides. Students also worked on defining and illustrating two new vocabulary words. On the next Google Meet Call, I conducted a class discussion to extend students’ analysis of key text elements. Students enjoyed sharing their thinking with each other.


 Cherry Malaque, Special Ed. Teacher/ATF Member from Sombra Del Monte ES

“While all the world clamors for more heroes, we find heroes within each one of us”.

Sombra del Monte Special Ed quickly responds to make connections and strengthen relationships with students and families immediately after the lockdown on March 13, 2020. A variety of efforts to reach students and families were made to ensure no student slipped through the cracks. Whenever a  student or family didn’t respond after many attempts, teachers felt concerned. Each teacher thought of ways to extend more efforts offering more support to students and families.

It was and still is a roller coaster ride. These pictures show the teachers’ dedication to making connections really authentic. We visited students’ residences  (after acquiring permission from parents and following social distancing) and gave them rewards for their performances in iReady, Seesaw and Google Classroom.  To make our visit fun, we wore character costumes and showed signs of support to the families.

The happiness we saw on the faces of our students and families was indescribable and meaningful. We looked at positivity amidst COVID-19. We may be bombarded with fears and uncertainties but we assure families that if we do this together, we will survive. As Sombra says: “ Together we’re better, together we shine”. Now we say: “Together we are braver, together we survive”.  Go, Sombra, go!


Christie Marrs, Title I Reading Teacher/ATF Fed Rep, Zuni Elementary School
“The teachers at Zuni are doing all manner of things to reach our families and keep our students engaged. Most support staff, like myself, have created our own websites and we pop into Google Meets to read to students and just chat. We have a volunteer system set up where staff who feel comfortable doing so can assist in passing out lunches and technology and other items to families through a drive-thru system. We are having weekly virtual staff meetings and our principal has been absolutely amazing during this pandemic. Our principal should be a model to others in how to treat and take care of a staff! He has put zero pressure on us and his main concern has been our safety and health. He has urged a “less is more” approach and has recognized us all for our creativity and dedication and our engagement with one another from a distance. I thank my lucky stars that I work at Zuni! “

Shelly Goodman, Special Education Teacher/ATF Member @ Petroglyph ES

“I teach second- through fourth-grade students with learning disabilities. It has been wonderful seeing all the kids in the online meetings. They are real troupers. I want to say thank you to all the families for helping them get set up with all the technology and learning programs. During our classroom meetings, students have been able to participate in a number of different lesson formats, including online workbooks, learning games, taking a virtual field trip, and participating in writing conferences with peers.

This week, we are writing opinions using Google Docs where students are able to type and add pictures while working online with me and with peers. The students used Google Docs in the classroom this year, so they know how to open it up and share the writing with me during the online meetings. Students are also familiar with the writing accommodations provided by APS that help them with spelling. Another helpful accommodation is the text-to-speech option that allows the writing to be read back to the student by the computer. Some students, who have more difficulty spelling, also use the speech-to-text feature which allows them to get more ideas on the page.”


 Matthew Newman, PE Teacher/ATF Member @ Dolores Gonzales ES and his son

“We’ve made a YouTube channel named “Backyard PE”. In the videos, my son and I go through numerous physical activities you can do with everyday household items. We, then, put the videos on our school’s class dojo page where the kiddos can go to see the videos and such.

We created a Google classroom where we put weekly assignments up, strictly optional of course. The assignments on the Google classroom are about nutrition, anatomy, and other health topics. Lastly, we try to go into as many Google classrooms a week to visit with the classroom teachers and students in an effort to touch base with everybody.”