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NMSU graduate student, teacher honored for encouraging critical thinking in classroom

Fourth-grade teacher Marisol Moreno is exploring new concepts in her classroom, including teaching her students to be critical of their society.


Head and shoulders studio photo of NMSU College of Education graduate student Marisol Moreno.
New Mexico State University College of Education graduate student Marisol Moreno has been selected to receive an Exemplary Multicultural Educator Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education in November. (Courtesy Photo)

?There are a lot of pressures for teachers today, but we really need to rethink education and how we approach our classrooms,? said Moreno, who teaches at Frank Macias Elementary School in Horizon City, just outside of El Paso. ?I think most people would be surprised by how questioning fourth-graders can be of their world.?

Moreno is a New Mexico State University College of Education doctoral student who has been selected to receive the first Exemplary Multicultural Educator Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education at their conference in Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 5-9.

NAME is a nonprofit organization that advances and advocates for equity and social justice through multicultural education. Founded in 1990, there are more than 1,500 members worldwide.

?I am honored and privileged to be a member of this association because I believe in what they stand for, but this isn?t just an award for me, it is for all of us,? Moreno said, referring to her students.

Moreno was nominated for the award by NMSU College of Education distinguished achievement professor H. Prentice Baptiste, who is a founding member of NAME and was recently selected as the next president-elect for the organization.

?Marisol is a special teacher, who is willing to take risks,? said Baptiste, who has spent time in the classroom with Moreno and her students. ?Her students have become partners in the educational process. Her classroom is a community where Marisol serves as a facilitator for her students to question. We need to support this type of teaching.?

Moreno had to submit a short video for consideration and chose to include her students in the presentation. The video, available at http://bit.ly/1zpOClj, highlights the students? ability to look at social justice issues, Moreno said.

?This video shows what happens in my classroom every day,? she said. ?We need to teach kids what they can do, then give them an opportunity to do it.?

Baptiste said it is very important to point out that Moreno?s students, including special needs students and English-language learners, excel on their standardized tests.

Moreno has a bachelor?s in multicultural education and a master?s in linguistics.