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Pamela Cort was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education in July and is seeking a full four-year term in the Nov. 2 local election.
Cort grew up in Santa Fe and has lived in Las Cruces for the past 31 years. After beginning her career with Albuquerque Public Schools, she taught French at Las Cruces High School for 26 years, retiring in May 2019.
“I have been an educator my entire life,” said Cort, who is making her first bid for public office. She was appointed to the school board by its four remaining members after the resignation of Terrie Dallman.
Cort said she decided to seek a full term on the board because of “some very specific things I want to do as far as taking care of our children,” Cort said, including an “equitable outcome for all of our students,” regardless of their ethnicity or what language they speak.
She would also like to see activity buses used at LCPS high schools so those students who want to can stay after regular school hours to participate in clubs and organizations or whatever after-school activities they are interested in.
“When students have a sense of belonging, they are more active and more successful in school,” Cort said.
Cort said she also would like to see less emphasis placed on standardized tests to determine student success. Alternatives like student portfolios ensure that student needs are met and include each student’s “rich cultural history and linguistic history” rather than the “one and done” of a standardized test.
Cort said she is very supportive of community schools. She attended the ribbon cutting for LCPS’ fifth community school, Alameda Elementary, in August.
“What I love about community schools is they go in first and assess the needs of the community and then work with community partners to make sure those needs are met,” she said.
“It’s amazing. It’s wonderful what we can do as a community when we all come together to make sure everyone in the community is thriving,” Cort said.
There are 12 schools in LCPS District 2, which Cort represents on the board, and she has visited all of them, Cort said.
“We just have such amazing schools in Las Cruces,” she said. “I am so proud of our district. We do such cool things for kids. I just want to continue that work.”
Cort said she appreciates “the adaptability of LCPS” since the onset of the pandemic and the need to incorporate remote learning and deal with “the social and emotional problems for the entire community that came with that – not just the kids, but everyone.”
“We constantly have to reinvent the idea of schools,” Cort said, to make the changes necessary to help LCPS meet “our number one priority, to be successful as a kid.”
“The biggest challenge for teachers right now … is making sure everyone feels safe so they can learn,” Cort said. “Students need somebody who will advocate for them, make them feel safe, make them feel valued.”
Cort said she knew and worked with the late Karen Trujillo, who was LCPS superintendent until she was killed in an automobile accident in February.
Trujillo “did such a wonderful job and had so many great things in place,” Cort said. “I do believe it has made it easier for (new superintendent) Ralph (Ramos) to take over.”
Now working directly with Ramos, “I am so impressed,” Cort said. “He works so hard to make sure we are doing what’s best for kids. He is always looking ahead.”
Cort was named LCPS teacher of the year in 2012 and New Mexico teacher of the year in 2013.
Cort has a BA in French from Washington State University, an MA in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University and an Ed.S. (education specialist) in curriculum, instruction and assessment from Walden University.