Silvia Miranda was named the winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation's highest honor for teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The K-2 reading specialist for Clovis Municipal Schools, who graduated with a Bachelor of Art in Education with a minor in bilingual education from Eastern New Mexico University in 2004 and a Master of Education/Education Literacy from Wayland Baptist University in 2013, shares what the honor means to her.
Tell us about receiving the PAEMST.
Receiving the PAEMST is a huge honor! After being nominated for the award, each nominee must go through a very rigorous and reflective application process. This was in the middle of COVID, so the application process really challenged me to think of creative ways to continue to create authentic and engaging experiences for my students while we were online and hybrid.
After I submitted my application, a panel of judges at the state level reviewed it. I was selected as a state finalist and was able to submit an addendum to my application based on feedback from state judges. The judging at the national level took place, and I was notified (more than a year later due to pandemic circumstances) by the White House that I was an awardee!
Usually, awardees are celebrated in Washington, D.C., but due to the pandemic, we were honored virtually and will receive a $10,000 reward. I will get to attend an in-person event later this summer.
What does it mean to you to be selected for this award?
This award represents so much – first, it validates that education is the key to success – all the hard work and sacrifices my parents endured to give me a good education were truly the best gift they could give me.
My husband and two daughters have supported me and have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout my journey as an educator, and this award will hopefully inspire my girls to dream big and work hard.
Finally, this award means that anyone, no matter the background or the circumstance, can overcome any obstacles and reach their goals if they work hard and believe in themselves.
I hope that through this award, I can inspire kids, especially minority girls, to follow their passion for science, technology, engineering and math.
Tell us about your job. What inspired you to work in this role?
I was previously a fourth-grade teacher at Mesa Elementary for eight years. I currently work as a K-2 Reading Specialist for Clovis Municipal Schools.
While it was a tough decision to leave the classroom, I knew that ultimately, I wanted a position that would allow me to make an impact beyond the four walls of my classroom. I love helping teachers, and I have learned so much from observing and coaching others.
This new position allows me to support and mentor teachers in their reading instruction. I participate in NMPED training regarding structured literacy and work with other reading specialists to ensure our curriculum aligns with that framework.
I collaborate with principals and teachers on how to implement appropriate literacy plans and how to utilize effective, research-based strategies for reading instruction.
My favorite part of the job is modeling lessons in classrooms!
Which aspect of your career is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect of teaching is definitely seeing students excited about learning and getting to witness them grow in their confidence and knowledge.
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to positively impact future leaders, and although we don't always get to see the immediate fruits of our labor, we get to celebrate milestones, both big and small, with our students daily.
I love when past students come up to me and still remember an activity or experience we had years ago.
What are your short- and long-term career goals?
My short-term career goals are to continue to support teachers in how best to instruct our students to ensure ALL our students have an equitable chance to learn to read. I love collaborating with the district and state on issues that directly impact teachers and students, so I also hope to continue building those relationships.
My long-term goal is to write a children's book – this has been a lifelong dream that I hope to soon make a reality!
Discuss your accomplishments and awards.
I received the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and was a 2020 NSTA Shell Science Teaching Award finalist (Top 3), 2019 Intel/Golden Apple STEM Teacher Grant winner- STEMpowering Future Problem Solvers, 2018 New Mexico Milken Educator Award recipient, 2018 New Mexico Teacher of the Year finalist (Top 4) and the 2018 Clovis Teacher of the Year.
What advice would you give to a student interested in working in your career field?
I would encourage anyone who has a sincere love for kids and who feels called to be an educator to pursue their passion.
If you are thinking of becoming a teacher – go for it! Is it challenging? Yes. Is it work? Yes. Will it be the best job you could ever have – ABSOLUTELY!
Teaching is the toughest job out there, but it is also the most rewarding and fulfilling profession. There are many programs and initiatives right now to help recruit New Mexico educators, like the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship, Teacher Loan Repayment, Grow Your Own Teacher Scholarship Program at the state level and the Clovis School District just announced an Educator Fellows program to help grow educational assistants into teachers.
Do your research, spend time in different classrooms to make sure this is right for you, and
Tell us about your family and background.
I have a wonderful husband, Elder Miranda, of almost 17 years, and two beautiful daughters, Jackie Miranda, 15, and Joanna Miranda, 11.
I was born in Colorado but moved to Portales, New Mexico, when I was 12. My parents, Indalecio and Guadalupe Cano, still live in Portales, and my older sister, Susana, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
My husband served in the army, so we moved around a bit during the first years of our marriage, but we have lived in New Mexico for the past 12 years.
Why did you choose to attend ENMU?
ENMU was close to home, and I knew they had an outstanding education department. I liked the small class sizes, the close relationships with professors and the feel of a welcoming community.
I especially appreciated the pre-service experiences in the educational field offered through ENMU; they do a great job of partnering with local districts to ensure future teachers are well prepared for the field.
How did you choose your field of study?
I have always known I wanted to be an educator; teaching is my passion, and I cannot imagine myself in any other field other than education!
I love working with kids and other teachers, and the desire to be a life-long learner is what I hope to foster in myself and instill in others.
Discuss your Eastern Experience.
I had wonderful experiences as a student at ENMU. My professors cared deeply about each student and were invested in our success.
My favorite classes were any and all that had to do with education, child psychology and Spanish literature, especially because I had such knowledgeable and engaging professors. Dr. Mary Ayala, Dr. Jose Contreras, Dr. Julia Rosa Lopez-Emslie, and Ms. Geni Flores were such great inspirations!
One summer, I got to study in Merida, Yucatan, as part of my Spanish requirements for my minor in bilingual education, and it is still a memory I treasure because it was such an immersive and cultural experience.
Are you involved with any organizations or causes? Volunteer work?
I have a hard time saying no to anything I feel passionate about, which means that I am involved in many things!
I was the recipient of the Milken Educator Award in 2018, and the biggest prize (bigger than the $25,000 check I received!) is now being part of the Milken Network, a national network of award-winning teachers that I have learned and gleaned so much from! I participate in professional development webinars with this group, and I am one of the moderators for the Facebook group for this network.
I have also worked closely with the New Mexico Public Education Department in different capacities. Currently, I am one of 50 teachers across New Mexico serving as a state ambassador, and within this role, I am working with a marketing team to help recruit and retain teachers in our state.
I have served on multiple PED task forces, including school reentry, teacher evaluation and curriculum development.
I am a National Board-certified teacher and have worked as a learning facilitator to help other teachers in our state become board certified.
I also serve as a Khan ambassador, and I help support teachers nationally in utilizing this great resource for math instruction.
I am a Statistics in our Schools ambassador for New Mexico, and I help bring census and statistics information/lessons/resources into our classrooms.
I am working with United Way on a Youth Success and 100% Community initiative, and I am collaborating in the planning of the first annual summer program with the City of Clovis.
I also teach a 7th-grade class every Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
What are your hobbies?
I love to read, spend time with my family and travel. I have been to nine countries and can't wait to explore more!
Silvia with her parents, holding the congratulatory banner from the National Science Foundation.