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Mrs. Melanie Chavez, Principal, went to UNM where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Political Science. She received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from The University of Phoenix. Mrs. Chavez has been at St. Mary’s for several years. She has taught fourth grade, a fourth/fifth grade combo class, second grade and was the middle school language arts teacher. She was named St. Mary’s Teacher of the Year in 2012 and 2018, and has received the Catholic Foundation Teacher of the Year in 2016. She and her husband have three children, who are all alumni of St. Mary’s and went on to continue their Catholic education at St. Pius X.
Ms. Suzie Armijo, who is originally from Chilili, NM, is our cook at St. Mary’s School. She was previously a caregiver, and enjoys St. Mary’s because everyone is friendly, helpful, and welcoming. In her free time she likes to garden and spend time with her two children and her two grandchildren.
Bernadette Baca loves art and loves teaching about the beauty, goodness and truth in art to all grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. This year she is also teaching religion to the 6th graders. Bernadette is a St. Mary's alumni. She received her Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of New Mexico and also has an endorsement in Reading and Library Media. She is married to Michael Baca, and they are the proud parents of five daughters and six grandchildren. She looks forward to a fruitful year working with all the children of St. Mary’s.
Ms. Susan Barela, educational assistant, is native to New Mexico with family roots in the Manzano Mountains. She attended The University of New Mexico Valencia Campus where she obtained her Educational Assistant Level 3 Licenses Certification. With twenty-two years of experience working in the Belen Public Schools system, she has recently retired in 2020 as an Elementary/Special Education Instructional Assistant at Gill Sanchez Elementary. Ms. Barela has 3 sons and numerous grandchildren, and has a passion for educating and caring for children. With this deep passion, she is excited to influence and educate students at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Beside working with children, Ms. Barela also likes to spend her time gardening, baking, and attending Mass at Our Lady of Belen.
Ms. Charlene Baca has been the first grade teacher at St. Mary's Catholic School for over 18 years. Charlene has been married to Gilbert Baca for more than 31 years and they have two sons, Brenton and Austin, both graduates of St. Mary's. She enjoys the challenges of teaching inquisitive young minds so that they can achieve academic growth that exceeds expectations. In her down time, she likes staying active with yoga, zumba, and salsa dance lessons
Ms. Alex Carrillo is the Middle School Science teacher. She also does the science lab for grades Pre-K through 5 th grades. Ms. Carrillo graduated from the University of New Mexico with a double Bachelor’s Degree in General Education as well as Special Education. In the summer, you may have seen her at the Belen High School pool where she teaches swimming lessons and supervises the life guards. She has certifications in First-Aid and CPR.
Mrs. Carmen Chavez has been an elementary school teacher for 18 years in the public school system. Mrs. Chavez has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership with an emphasis in reading. Mrs. Chavez is a member of San Clemente Parish in Los Lunas where she has served as a catechist. She is married to Ted Chavez and has a son who attends St. Mary’s.
Mrs. April Foster, St. Mary's assistant cook, has been working for St. Mary’s for many years. She is married to Steven Foster and her three children are all alumni of St. Mary’s. In her spare time, she likes to cross-stitch and read. She enjoys working at St. Mary’s because everyone is friendly and the school has a family oriented feel. She loves being able to share her Catholic faith and values with the students.
Mrs. Carmen Chavez has been an elementary school teacher for 18 years in the public school system. Mrs. Chavez has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership with an emphasis in reading. Mrs. Chavez is a member of San Clemente Parish in Los Lunas where she has served as a catechist. She is married to Ted Chavez and has a son who will be in 5th grade at St. Mary’s.
Mrs. Melissa C. Jaramillo, 2nd grade teacher, attended Eastern New Mexico University in Portales NM and received her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She received a Master's of Science in Leadership degree from Grand Canyon University. Ms. Jaramillo's professional career was in higher education where she served 30 plus years. She retired from New Mexico Tech in early 2020. She and her husband Damon Fleming have one son, Noah, who is an alumni of St. Mary's. Damon is a teacher with Belen Consolidated Schools.
Mrs. Sohaila Lucero, Technology Specialist, System Administrator and middle school technology teacher. While completing her B.Sc in Computer Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), she worked as an assistant System Administrator at the School of Pharmacy, MUN. In 2003, she began working as a Software Engineer for the ALMA project at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). She started working at Saint Mary's at the end of 2014. She was awarded teacher of the year in 2019 in Albuquerque and in the state of New Mexico by the the Air Force Association for STEM focused curriculum.
Mr. John Martinez is a UNM graduate with an additional twenty-seven hours of graduate work. He recently retired from the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS.) This veteran teacher started his teaching career working for St. Therese Parochial School in Albuquerque. After his first two years of service with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, he gained employment with APS. Mr. Martinez worked eight years for APS, then was employed with the Public Education Bureau in Santa Fe as a Bilingual Consultant. As a Bilingual Consultant, John helped implement bilingual programs throughout our state. After three years of work for the State Department he realized his love for teaching, and how much he missed it. As a result, back to APS where he taught for years, until he retired. Never did Mr. Martinez forget his first two years of service with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. He then received employment at St. Mary’s School where he is very excited about resuming his teaching career.
Ms. Alexandra Marquez, educational assistant from Belen, New Mexico. Graduation from Belen High School in May of 2021. Has been working at St. Mary’s since September. She enjoys being around the kids and helping both the students and staff when needed.
Mrs. Janet Montoya, is the first face you see when you walk into St. Mary's. She started at St. Mary's as an EA in kindergarten in 2001. Then she moved to become the school's secretary. She is married to her high school sweatheart and they have 2 kids together, who both attended St. Mary's.
Ms. Samantha J. Padilla is the P.E. Teacher for grades PreK through 8 th grade. Samantha is an alumni of St. Mary’s School. She attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM and received a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business with a second Bachelor’s degree in Business for Project Supply Chain Management. She has been a member of Our Lady of Belen Parish as well as a member of this community. She is eager and excited to be teaching the next generation of students who are coming to St. Mary’s and to help them build the foundation and knowledge that she was given while attending St. Mary’s Catholic School. Ms. Padilla was very happy and blessed when she was offered the position because she is able to give back to Our Lady of Belen Parish, St. Mary’s Catholic School, and her community by teaching the next generation.
Mrs. Elena Padilla is a graduate from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Mathematics. She has taught various grade levels throughout her career spending many of those years teaching first grade. She is now thrilled to be able to prepare her kindergartners and help them master the skills that will enable them to be successful in first grade. She absolutely loves to be able to invite God into her classroom and help her students grow spiritually as well as academically. Mrs. Padilla was the 2020 St. Mary’s Teacher of the Year and a recipient of the Catholic Award for Teachers.
Mrs. Elise Prevot, Middle School ELA, was born and raised in Belen and am is a graduate of Belen High School. She received a BS in Education from New Mexico Highlands University. After she received a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Mexico. She has been married for 28 years and has two children. For the past 30 years she have taught grades K-6, including technology and recently retired from the Los Lunas Schools. Some things she enjoys doing are arts and crafts including beading and taking long walks. So if you see her out walking, please say hello!
St. Mary's Catholic School
101 North 10th Street. Belen, NM 87002US
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