Tara Hughes, a passionate early childhood educator, has been bestowed the prestigious title of the 2023 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Secretary Kurt Steinhaus commended Hughes for her outstanding contributions to the teaching profession and her tireless advocacy for the youngest learners.
“Ms. Hughes is a shining example of how to deliver a top-notch education to our youngest learners. This administration is dedicated to providing every resource and support to educators like Ms. Hughes and New Mexico students to ensure their success from an early age,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. Secretary Steinhaus also praised Hughes, emphasizing her exceptional efforts in teaching preschool students, stating, “New Mexico is fortunate to have her as our 2023 spokesperson for the teaching profession.”
Upon receiving the accolade, Hughes expressed her gratitude and sense of purpose, saying, “I’m so honored to represent early childhood educators, to advocate for our earliest learners, and to be a voice for young children who may not be able to speak for themselves.” Her dedication to providing equal opportunities and quality education to all young learners is evident in her work at the Nye Early Childhood Center in Santa Fe.
In addition to her role as a preschool teacher, Hughes actively supports her colleagues through professional learning communities and by coaching them on positive behavior supports, evidence-based strategies, and social-emotional curriculums. Her impact extends beyond her classroom, making her a respected leader in the field of education.
Tara Hughes‘ recognition as the New Mexico Teacher of the Year underscores her significant contributions to early childhood education. Her focus on inclusion and providing equal opportunities for all students is at the core of her teaching philosophy. She believes that every child and family member is equally valued and deserving of the same experiences and opportunities. In her application, Hughes wrote, “Inclusion is not only instrumental in changing discriminatory attitudes but provides a better-quality education for all children by broadening educators’ pedagogical approach.”
Catherine Turietta-Huber, a fifth-grade teacher at Tombaugh Elementary School in Las Cruces, was also honored as first runner-up for the 2023 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. Huber is a veteran teacher, having taught in Las Cruces Public Schools for over 20 years. As the spokesperson for the teaching profession in New Mexico, Tara Hughes will showcase her commitment to excellence and her advocacy for early childhood education undoubtedly make her a role model for educators statewide.