Mr. Winston Brooks
Albuquerque Public Schools
Dear Mr. Brooks,
As superintendent of APS, I'm sure you would like to know what a treasure Zia Elementary School is to our community. The faculty and staff of Zia are dedicated and remarkable in their commitment to children.
Our son J**** was 3 lbs 7 oz at birth. He was a failure to thrive baby and underwent human growth hormone therapy in the first years of life. At the age of three the director of the daycare he attended told us about the APS program Childfind. J**** was tested and found to have several developmental delays. He started the Childfind program at Zia Elementary the following school year when he was four.
Childfind paperwork asked what we as parents would like to see accomplished for our son. At the time J**** had difficulties with making sentences, word retrieval, and word recognition. We stated that we wanted J**** to be able to tell us a story. Well, that objective has certainly been met and exceeded.
J**** is graduating from fifth grade this May 2011. He has been in the special education department and has received the finest instruction. From day one, his teachers, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and the head of special-ed at Zia, Ms. Kathy Lopez, have all worked as a team to uncover and bring insight into how J**** learns. They have given J**** his voice and he is quite the storyteller.
Mr. Bill Davis was J****'s kindergarten and first grade teacher. Ms. Melanie Costanzo was his second/third grade teacher. Ms. MaryAnn White and her EA Mr. Kevin Hughes have been with J**** for fourth and fifth grades. Each of these exceptional educators performs miracles in the lives of the children they serve. I have personally witnessed their patience and marveled at their abilities to connect with special needs children. Our family will never forget these gracious and gifted teachers that brought learning to our son.
J****'s self confidence grew by leaps and bounds when he began participating in extra-curricular activities offered by Zia Elementary and through the Family Focus Center. He took Karate, music, Spanish and many other classes.
Mr. Kevin Hughes started a chess club this semester and J**** loved it. He even won a chess tournament that the chess club attended.
Ms. Martha McArthur, the computer teacher at Zia, sponsored the Video Club. Mr. Chuck Jurich a graduate student at UNM volunteers to instruct the students who are chosen to participate. J**** has participated the past two years. The students learn all about making movies from script to filming to directing to editing and final production. The students take the process very seriously. At the end of the year they are proud to have a screening of all of their films.
J**** found his niche in video club. He began to put into practice all of the skills his teachers had been teaching him. He relished all aspects of production--even script writing. J**** can tell a story.
The principal at Zia is Mr. Gregg McMann and he has fostered an environment of learning that is mindful of the needs of the population the school serves. He and the faculty and staff of Zia are invaluable to our community. Our family will miss all of them, but we will be back to visit.
SIncerely, (His Parents)