Gov. Martinez and CYFD Celebrate Education Complex Grand Opening
LAS CRUCES – Governor Susana Martinez joined Children, Youth, and Families Department staff today to celebrate the grand opening of the education complex at the Aztec Youth Academy, located at the John Paul Taylor Detention Center in Las Cruces. Governor Martinez and CYFD officials stressed the importance of education for juveniles serving sentences in a CYFD facility.
There are nine teachers at the Aztec Youth Academy covering subjects like science, English, math, social studies and special education. There are also two new vocational teachers as well as a special education coach, substitute teachers and educational assistants. The new education complex has five classrooms, three administrative office spaces, a library, a gymnasium, an exercise room, and a state-of-the-art green that will be maintained by the juvenile clients.
“A good education is the key to success in life, and that’s perhaps especially true when a juvenile is incarcerated,” said Governor Martinez. “The technology within each one of the classrooms allows these youth to remain engaged with school and helps them as they work toward their educational goals. If we can further a juvenile’s education while they’re serving their sentence, we can greatly improve their chances of succeeding when they go back to our communities.”
The new facility includes computer technology: all class rooms have access to the E2020 virtual classroom, which offers E-learning courses for the students; two classrooms have promethean boards which allow the students to actively participate in lessons; and all classrooms have access to mobile LCD projectors (one classroom has a mounted LCD projector.) Each teacher also has access to computer software called Vision Pro security which allows them to view their student’s computer activity from their own desktop.
$5.7 million dollars were appropriated to CYFD to build and furnish the new education complex. The final cost of the education complex, which included the building and furnishing of the gymnasium, classrooms, office spaces, and green house cost a total of $5.1 million dollars. The remaining $600,000 will be used to build a new vocational training building where the juvenile youth can learn vocational trades like welding, food service and auto repair.
CYFD operates a state-sanctioned school district that includes three schools – two in Albuquerque and one in Las Cruces. Each school is co-located with at least one CYFD-run facility, and uses a curriculum aligned with state standards set by the Public Education Department. Students attend school each weekday from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“That staff at the Aztec Youth Academy help kids engage in their education again,” says CYFD Secretary Yolanda Deines. “These kids are usually not doing well in school when they come to us. They have been suspended, or expelled, or they just don’t go to school. Our test scores now trend upwards, and it’s rewarding to see our students start talking about vocations and post-secondary learning.”
The Aztec Youth Academy currently serves students who are in high school, getting their GED, or obtaining-post secondary education.