New Mexico Higher Education Department Honors Legacy, Renews Commitment to Teacher Education

Stephanie Montoya


SANTA FE, NM – The New Mexico Higher Education Department has partnered with public colleges and universities, sister education agencies, and lawmakers to establish and expand programs aimed at recruiting and supporting teachers in the state.  

New Mexico’s public colleges and universities have a longstanding history rooted in preparing educators, and the New Mexico Higher Education Department is committed to providing resources and establishing policies that grow and prepare the teacher pipeline for the diverse needs of our state and education in the 21st century.  

“Many of our higher education institutions in New Mexico originated with the mission to prepare educators who would serve the diverse communities of our state,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said. “Our agency and partners are renewing our commitment to this legacy by expanding the educator pipeline through financial aid programs and increasing recruitment efforts in underrepresented communities.”   

Several of New Mexico’s present-day colleges and universities originated as constitutionally established normal schools, with the express purpose of training teachers on instruction in both English and Spanish to serve rural communities across the state. New Mexico State University, Western New Mexico University, Northern New Mexico College, and New Mexico Highlands University, among others, were established by the territorial government as early as 1893.  

“It is important to recognize all teachers, whether they are teaching pre-K or our higher education professors preparing our future educators,” State Rep. Joy Garratt said. “We need to rekindle the idea of teaching as a calling, and our teacher shortage needs to be addressed via innovative programs like peer cohort models and the Grow Your Own Teachers Scholarship.”  

Garratt sponsored legislation during the 2021 regular legislative session that provides $500,000 via the Grow Your Own Teachers Scholarship to increase the number of educational assistants pursuing paths to teacher licensure and ensuring that professional leave is available to anyone in these positions pursuing bachelor’s degrees in education.  She worked as a teacher and instructional coach for 28 years in communities in New Mexico, Los Angeles, and abroad in South Korea, teaching pre-K to university students. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico’s teacher preparation and educational leadership programs.  

The Higher Education Department oversees multiple scholarship and financial aid programs aimed at defraying the costs of attaining teacher licensure. The Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship awards up to $6,000 per academic year to cover tuition and other costs. The Teacher Loan Repayment and Loan for Service programs cover tuition or provide loan reimbursement up to 100 percent alongside a two-year minimum teaching commitment. Since 2019, more than 1,300 educators have benefitted from these programs.  

The New Mexico Higher Education and Early Childhood and Care Departments have also partnered increase the number of bilingual and Indigenous language educators at early childhood programs across the state, with the investment of $7 million to build capacity at New Mexico’s public and Tribal colleges and universities to train and recruit early childhood educators from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.    

“We are concerned about providing equitable education in our state. We have to bring more teachers on board from all communities,” said Dr. David Rutledge, Department Head at New Mexico State University’s School of Teacher Preparation, Administration, and Leadership. “Going forward, we also understand the role of technology in teaching and learning, and the massive shift in public education our state has taken during the pandemic.”  

New Mexico State University’s College of Education also serves as the state office for Educators Rising NM, a program initiated by the late Dr. Karen Trujillo to guide young people to careers in teaching beginning in high school and extending through college and into the profession. The program has been established in more than 40 high schools and four colleges and universities statewide.  

According to a report by New Mexico State University, New Mexico had 571 teacher vacancies in 2020. Elementary and special education teachers were in highest demand, as was math as a subject area of specialization. In 2020, New Mexico colleges and universities awarded 2,066 degrees and certificates in education.   

To learn more about financial aid resources available to aspiring educators, visit