Classes and Teachers
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Cottonwood Valley Charter School is a K-8 public school. In addition to
the required math, science, language arts, and social studies courses,
we also offer art, music, physical education, and Spanish.
some information about our classes and the faculty who teach them.
Class supply lists are linked below where available.
Electronic versions will be posted during the summer,
before the tax-free weekend.
For information on the tax holiday, please see
article on the New Mexico state taxation Web site.
In 2012, Ms. Berlat's 7th- and 8th-grade writing classes wrote news
articles, several of which were published in El Defensor Chieftain.
You can enjoy reading them
You can also read the middle-school students' wonderful
from 2010, describing things they love about Socorro and the surrounding
The information in this section of the Web site is reviewed by
Administrator: Ms. Karin Williams
Before joining CVCS in 2007, Karin spent 28 years as an educator,
including positions in Magdalena, Socorro, and Alamo. She has taught
children of all ages, and has also served as a mentor and professional
trainer of other teachers. In 2010, Ms. Williams was named
"Principal of the Year"
by the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools.
Kindergarten: Mrs. Jill Abraham
Jill grew up in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. She originally moved to
Albuquerque, NM in 1989. She met her husband, Wayne, and had a son, Jordan,
while in Albuquerque. Later she moved, with her family, to Tucson, AZ for
3 1/2 years, then to Reno, NV for 5 years. In the fall of 2005, they moved
to Belen, NM to be close to both sides of the family. In January, 2006,
Jill went back to school for her Early Childhood degree. She graduated
summa cum laude in 2009 from UNM Albuquerque. In the summer of 2009, she
obtained her Early Childhood license with a TESOL endorsement. During
the 2009-2010 school year she substituted in the Belen and Los Lunas school
districts. For fun, Jill enjoys reading, crocheting, spending time with
family and entertaining friends at her home.
First Grade: Mrs. Kim Schaffer
Kim grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah where she fell in love with
mountains and hiking. Kim graduated with an Elementary Education
degree from the University of Utah and married her husband, Steve, in
1986. They have one grown daughter and one son who has graduated from CVCS.
Kim has taught in Socorro county since 1992. She took a year-long
sabbatical with her family in 1999 to Trondheim, Norway. Kim earned
a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction the summer
of 2008, as well as her Level III NM teaching license! She began teaching
at CVCS in fall 2008.
Second Grade: Ms. Miranda Gonzales
Miranda grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a sophomore in
high school she moved to New Mexico and attended a Private School in Belen
where she graduated Salutatorian. In 2003 she married her husband Joseph
and soon after relocated to Socorro. Miranda spent the next few years
raising and enjoying her two young daughters while attending the University
of New Mexico. In 2009 Miranda graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education
and is currently licensed K-8. Miranda enjoys reading, baking and gardening.
Third Grade: Ms. Madison Hebert
Madison grew up in Southlake, Texas. After graduating high school she
moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma State University,
where she met her husband, Justin. Madison graduated from OSU with a
Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education, licensed K-8. She taught
5th grade in Guthrie, Oklahoma for three years while her husband worked
for the Forest Service in Magdalena. Madison moved to Socorro in summer
2012 to be with her husband, and is excited to begin her fourth year of
Fourth & Fifth Grades
Math & Science (4th Grade Homeroom): Ms. Belle Rehder
Belle moved to New Mexico in 1986 after graduating from California
Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo with a degree in
Horticulture-Ag. Belle earned her teaching certification in secondary
science at UNM and taught biology and chemistry at Santa Fe High School,
then middle-school science (6-8th grade) at Santo Domingo Pueblo (1988 to
1993). She received her Special Education certification from Santa Fe
Community College/UNM Alternative Licensure Program while at Cochiti
Elementary-Middle School, teaching Special Education and later 6-8th
Science (2003-2008). In 2008, Belle entered the UNM Water Resources Graduate
program with a concentration in Hydro-Science and will receive her Masters
in Water Resources this fall (2012). Belle has a broad background in
agriculture and before moving to Socorro in 2010, had over 16 years'
experience as an organic farmer in northern NM, where she grew a variety
of produce, flowers and animals. Belle enjoys being outside gardening,
hiking and camping, bicycling and dreams of more time for ceramics.
Language Arts & Social Studies (5th Grade Homeroom): Mrs. Kate Burleigh
"I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, and was often found lounging in
a rowboat, skilled at balancing a fishing pole between my toes, a cold
Coke in my left hand and a John D. MacDonald mystery in my right. Within
the walls of the classroom though, textbooks and fill-in-the-blank
worksheets developed another set of reading 'skills': superficial and
fake reading. It wasn't until my adult years that I really began to enjoy
and be skilled at reading a variety of genres. My pathway to becoming an
active, engaged reader came through my Bachelor's degree at Emerson College
in acting and directing for Children's Theatre, my Master's degree in
Education from Lesley College, the New Mexico Tech alternative licensure
program, years of Storytelling and, most important, reading bedtime stories
with my husband and our six children. Our reading had us laughing until
our sides hurt in one story, and weeping with sorrow in the next. Now I
enjoy helping my students discover their own reading passions in the hope
that they will also become lifelong readers, diving into the colorful
worlds and seas that books have to offer."
6th Grade Writing & History, 6th/7th/8th Reading (6th homeroom): Ms. Gail Lujan
Gail Lujan grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, but has lived more
than half her life with her husband, Joaquin, here in the Rio Grande
valley of New Mexico. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts
and became a teacher when her children began school. For the last many
years, she has loved her job as a classroom teacher here in New Mexico
and currently holds a Level III license with endorsements in Language
Arts, Social Studies, TESOL, and Reading. Gail is looking forward to a
wonderful new chapter at Cottonwood Valley Charter School.
6th/7th/8th Science (7th grade homeroom): Keith Burns
Keith grew up in Aurora, Colorado. He moved to Socorro in 2005 to
attend New Mexico Tech. He graduated from Tech with a B.S. in 2009, was
a student teacher at Cottonwood in spring 2010, and has been a teacher
at Cottonwood since fall 2010. He has also worked as a summer camp
counselor in Capitan, NM.
Writing (7th; 8th homeroom), History (7th/8th): Mr. George Goggans
George Goggans, Jr., the son of two high school English teachers,
grew up in NW Florida as an avid golfer, reader, and Saints fan. He did
undergraduate work at the University of Alabama and earned his B.A. in
Secondary English Education from the University of West Florida in
Pensacola. Mr. Goggans' teaching career then began in the New Orleans area,
where he taught for four years in public school and eight years in a small,
private K-12 school. While teaching in New Orleans, Mr. Goggans earned
graduate credit in English from Loyola, Tulane, and the University of
New Orleans. There he participated in the Greater New Orleans Writing
Project, which led him to write and publish two children's books. While
driving to visit his sister's family in Phoenix, Mr. Goggans became
enchanted with our state and the idea of teaching in New Mexico; and
hence, here he is!
6th/7th/8th Math: Ms. Tommie McSherry
Ms. McSherry grew up on a small farm outside of Deming, NM. In 1999 she
moved to Socorro to attend NMT, where she earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biology
and a teaching license through the ALP. In her free time she enjoys being
outdoors with her family gardening, playing and caring for their many
animals, and hiking. 2012-2013 is her first year teaching, and she looks
forward to many more! Ms. McSherry will also be working with small groups
in math and the Gifted Education program.
Special Education/Gifted: Ms. Tommie McSherry
Special Education: Mr. Jack Hibbs
Jack has been active in athletics and fitness his whole life. He graduated
from The College of New Jersey where he majored in Political Science and
Elementary Ed. He divides his time between Socorro and the Manzano
Mountains, where he lives. He came to CVCS in fall 2005 and, before becoming
interested in Special Education, taught PE, middle-school history, and
Spanish: Ms. Sheri Armijo
[Note: K-5 students receive Spanish instruction for 30-50 minutes every
Ms. Armijo began teaching at CVCS in fall 2008. She is originally from
Las Cruces, NM and has lived in Phoenix, Chicago, and Albuquerque. She
obtained her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UNM in 1992,
began teaching after graduation, and currently holds a New Mexico Level II
license with endorsements in ESL (English as a Second Language) and Bilingual
Education. She has taught Elementary Education and Spanish in Moriarty,
Albuquerque and Socorro schools for 20 years. She and her husband, Ricardo,
love walking everywhere they can in Socorro,
and if you pass by the Plaza some evening, you might catch them dancing in
Physical Education: Ms. Patti Chavez (K-3rd); Mr. Keith Burns (6th-8th)
Art: Ms. Iva O'Connor
Ms. O'Connor joined CVCS in the fall of 2009 and teaches art
to all grades.
Music: Beth Crowder
Ms. Crowder joined CVCS in the fall of 2010.
Teacher Aides/Instructional Assistants: Ms. Eva Greenwood
and Ms. Patti Chavez
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