FOCUS ON LEA COUNTY: How did you wind up in the Lovington school district?

JANET BRUELHART: I decided to become a teacher after helping my own children in the Science Olympiad at their schools. I really enjoyed helping with Science Olympiad, so I returned to school for a few classes for certification, did my student teaching, and was hired to teach science in the Lovington Municipal School District.

FOCUS: Tell us a little bit about your professional background and your role in education.

BRUELHART: I graduated from Cottey College in Missouri with an associate’s degree and the University of California at Davis with a bachelor’s degree in plant pathology. I got my master’s degree in agriculture from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. My husband and I were dairy farmers for 15 years. We sold the dairy, and I decided to become a teacher. It was at that time that I took a few classes to get certification to teach secondary science.

FOCUS: Tell us a little bit about you. What are your hobbies and interests?

BRUELHART: My parents came to the United States from Switzerland in the 1950s, and my husband was born and raised in Switzerland. We still have very strong ties to that country and we speak Swiss German in our home. We have five children; all of them were born in California. The oldest was eight when the youngest was born. We lived in California until 1991 when we moved our dairy to New Mexico. I love to travel. I love learning geology, chemistry, biology and agriculture. I am an avid gardener and love being outdoors. I love to read books of substance.

FOCUS: Please tell us about any awards you have received for your work in education.

BRUELHART: In 2008 I was honored to become a New Mexico Golden Apple Fellow. I have been Secondary Teacher of the Year in 2004 and 2015 for the Lovington School District. I was a finalist in the state of New Mexico for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. I was the 2011 Donnely Award Recipient for Excellence in Education.

FOCUS: What’s special about the Lovington educational system?

BRUELHART: The Lovington school district is well led and dedicated to the students in our district. I feel fortunate to be in this district because we have excellent facilities and staff. We have a very friendly climate throughout the district.

FOCUS: What do you want people to know about your department, its educators and the work they do that perhaps they might not know about or understand?

BRUELHART: Our science department teaches all of the standards and benchmarks as mandated by the state of New Mexico in an effort to prepare the students for the NM SBA-Science exam that they must pass for graduation. We also prepare them for End of Course exams in each subject. Many hours are spent in preparation for exams which takes away from all that we would like to do in our respective curricula. It is our job and our duty to teach every student. I want people to know that we are doing everything we can to prepare their children for graduation and for life after high school.

FOCUS: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

BRUELHART: The most rewarding aspect of my job is working with students and teaching them the subjects that I am so passionate about. I am excited about science, and I want them to become excited about science, too. I want to know my students, and I like to interact with each of them. I love each one of them because they are all different and unique. It is the students who make this job better than any other job.

FOCUS: Do you have a motto or saying that you live by?

BRUELHART: There is a poster in my classroom that I want everyone to observe. It is my only rule, the Golden Rule, which says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The only sayings that are really a part of me are ones that students will remember and recognize as related to chemistry and dimensional analysis. I always say, “Draw a line” and “Grams per mole” throughout the school year, which reminds students of skills they have learned in problem solving. My Hispanic students have taught me “ponte las pilas,” which reminds them to get busy and get going. I also say, “Justify your answer” and “Question everything” to create dialog in discussion.

FOCUS: Additional Comments?

BRUELHART: Being a teacher has become more and more of a struggle due to all the extra work we must do to meet state and federal mandates. Respect for the profession has declined, which distresses me because I work very hard to be the best I can be for my students. I resent the negative comments from people who are quick to criticize teachers yet offer no solutions to the problems we face every day.

I love teaching, and I sincerely hope that I have and will make a difference in students’ lives. Almost everyone has a most memorable teacher, and I hope that students will remember me and what I taught them in their high school chemistry class. I love my students and l love the content that I teach.