I started the Success Maker Award because I’ve always felt teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. I saw first-hand how much of their own money teachers spend to furnish their classrooms. My wife, Kandi, is a former elementary teacher, and every year she would use her own money to buy items for her classroom and students. She bought educational games, supplemental academic materials, stickers, student awards such as candy and other small prizes, books for her classroom library, and classroom decorations like bulletin board sets, posters, and border trim. Not to mention the purchase of new pens, pencils, sticky notes, and other desk essentials that were necessary supplies for her job. I started thinking, if my wife is using her own money for these things, I’m sure there are other teachers out there who are doing the same thing.

I talked with Dr. Caton about rewarding teachers for their hard work and he told me about the Successory Note program that was already in place throughout the school district. We came up with a plan to put each teacher’s name in a monthly drawing who had received a Successory Note during the month. A computer program would randomly pick a winner to be the Success Maker for the month. The recipient would receive $500.00 cash and a plaque.

It’s amazing that as long as we’ve had the Success Maker of the Month Award, many recipients have had a situation or crisis in which the $500.00 was a true blessing for them. I feel like God is guiding not only this program, but the recipients that are chosen as well.

Tate Branch
Written In Red Foundation

Kandi Branch | Outreach Projects Coordinator

Email: kandi@writteninredfoundation.com

Phone: (575) 736-2711 | Mobile: (575) 308-7149

505 W. Main Street | Artesia, NM  88210

February | D’Mar Ortega

I attended NMSU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Language Arts. Later, I completed a Master’s Degree from Walden University. I have twenty-six years of teaching experience. Choosing teaching was important to me because I knew I wanted to work with kids and possibly become a school psychologist. Once in the classroom, however, I loved that no two days were the same and it always warms my heart as each class of students becomes like a family. I get to watch these kids grow and that is an opportunity that most professions don’t get to experience. Making a connection, not only academically, but personally is a joy. Watching the quiet kid laugh or watching the “bossy” kid teach is priceless.

I adore the people I work with and feel grateful my children get to be taught by amazing people who are totally invested in them. The second grade team is family to me and I feel honored to be a part of this group. The older I get the more I realize how great our community and schools truly are. It is a blessing that this is where God has placed me.

March | Robbi Lugo AKA Rockin’ Robbi

My roots are in Artesia-born, raised, graduated a Bulldog. I love spending time with family and friends. You can usually find me at any of my nieces’ and nephews’ events. I always loved our community, especially the support of the children and schools. I got the opportunity to work for the Artesia Public Schools 2 years ago and am currently a custodian at Central Elementary. I see custodians as unsung heroes that contribute to every student’s learning by creating clean, safe and healthy environment. It is great to see students work hard to earn the privilege to help me with small tasks. I love my job and getting to build connection with the students and teachers has been the highlight.

April | Kayla Martinez

I grew up in Carlsbad, New Mexico and attended college at Eastern New Mexico University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics for Secondary Education. I have been teaching at Artesia High School for two years. One of my favorite things about being a teacher: The “Aha” moments… those times when I’m able to witness students work hard on something and reach a plateau, the point of understanding.

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Article originally published in Focus on Artesia 2020 Summer edition.