By Gary Mitchell
Although Melrose math teacher Lisa Graham said she didn’t feel “worthy” of her recent Golden Apple Award, her colleagues and peers said she deserved it.
Earlier this month, Graham was one of seven teachers in the state presented with the 2003 award at the “Tribute to Teachers” recognition dinner in Albuquerque.
The annual award is presented to teachers who represent the best of the best in New Mexico’s public and private schools. She was selected out of 167 nominees.
“I felt very, very humbled and proud,” Graham said. “I was just in awe. It was a tremendous honor. I didn’t feel I was really worthy of this kind of award, but as the selection process continued, I thought, ‘oh, man.’ At each level, they sent out a letter, saying I had made it to the next level. Then I thought, ‘Well, somebody thinks I’m worthy.’ It just got more exciting all along the way.”
The award selection committee members weren’t the only ones who thought the 38-year-old math teacher was worthy of the accolade.
“She’s outstanding,” said Jamie Widner, Melrose High School principal. “She teaches seventh-grade general math, eighth-grade pre-algebra and ninth-grade algebra. I nominated her this year. I think she’s truly outstanding in what she does. She’s extremely organized. We have a good math program here, and she’s the beginning of it. We had 15 students in calculus this past year. They wanted to take it because she created a desire in them for math. She set the foundation for it.”
“She’s great,” said Vicky Smith, Melrose High School secretary. “She teaches the kids so well. They respect her even though she’s tough with them. She’s real deserving of the award.”
Jodie Boyd with the Melrose Chamber of Commerce agreed.
“Lisa’s been teaching probably about 15 years,” she said. “She’s always excited about learning new ways to teach. She’s received her Master Teacher (certification).”
Two of Graham’s students had a personal investment in the outcome of the award presentation.
“Two of my students are my children — one was in the seventh grade and the other was in the ninth grade,” Graham said. “They got to go through the whole process with me. They were very encouraging. In fact, my whole family has been very supportive. They were very proud of me.”
Lisa Graham and her husband, Bill, have two teenagers, Brock, 15, and Lauren, 13.