Educator Profile    Educators

Christopher Nunez (NM '22)


Sonoma Elementary School
Las Cruces, NM

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 4

At the time of the Award, Christopher Nunez was:

Sonoma Elementary School
Las Cruces, NM

Subject(s) taught: General Elementary
Grade(s): 4

Biographical Information

In Christopher Nunez’s New Mexico classroom, students build problem-solving skills through engaging hands-on activities. Nunez’s fourth graders at Sonoma Elementary in Las Cruces use measuring tapes and cubic tiles to design gardens and pools for their backyards during lessons on area and perimeter.

When Sonoma adopted its 1:1 technology initiative, Nunez led the school’s efforts to demonstrate to the state that the iPads were being used effectively in instruction, guiding students as they used iMovie to create videos on curriculum-linked topics in social studies, science and literature. Children lead class discussions and demonstrate their strategies to accomplish each lesson’s learning objective. Nunez uses research-based strategies to enhance instruction for all students, especially English learners, and analyzes data to identify areas where more instruction is needed.

At the end of each day, Nunez has students answer exit ticket questions based on the day’s learning targets and assess their own understanding of the concepts with green, yellow and red stickers. In the after-school programs he leads, students conduct interviews and write human interest stories for Sonoma’s broadcast channel, such as profiling the then-new assistant principal. In “Reader’s Theater,” they read a play, rework the characters or ending, then act it out for their peers. Nunez’s students excel, growing from 70% to 100% proficient on the iReady Math assessment and ending the year with 92% on the Star Reading test.

A member of Sonoma’s leadership team, Nunez championed the idea of dividing the school into six “houses” to strengthen connections among students in different grades. Each house has a focus—for example, Team Vision brainstorms new ideas and encourages collaboration, while Team Atlas centers on love and kindness. Nunez leads professional development in technology and math, and he helps new staff members navigate classroom issues, content area questions and technology. He has shepherded the adoption of new textbooks as Sonoma’s social studies lead and works with colleagues on data analysis and backwards planning. Nunez participated in Harvard University’s Partnership for Enhancing Mathematics, recording his lessons and working with coaches to refine his teaching practice. During the pandemic, Nunez went above and beyond to make sure learning was accessible for all, providing extra Zoom help for ELA and math intervention groups and creating highly interactive lessons using breakout rooms, annotation, Jamboard, Nearpod and Canvas.

Nunez understands students’ social-emotional needs and fosters an environment of respect and trust. He is a leader in implementing Sonoma’s restorative practices, working with students to talk about and find resolutions to conflicts. Student-driven and committed to the community, Nunez hails from a family of educators—both parents teach in Las Cruces Public Schools.

Nunez earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2009 from New Mexico State University.

Press release: Surprise! Las Cruces Fourth Grade Teacher Honored as one of America's Best

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Article: Spotlight: Christopher Nunez (NM '22)

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Christopher Nunez In The News

How These Teachers Center Student Voice in Science Class
Education Week  |  Dec 27, 2022  |  Bethesda, MD

Sonoma Elementary Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Award
Las Cruces Bulletin  |  Oct 27, 2022  |  Las Cruces, NM

WATCH --> Sonoma Surprise: Fourth-Grade Teacher Wins $25k Award for Going Above and Beyond
KVIA-TV  |  ABC  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  El Paso, TX

WATCH --> Sonoma Elementary Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award
Las Cruces Sun-News  |  USA Today  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  Las Cruces, NM

WATCH --> Las Cruces Fourth Grade Teacher Receives $25K Milken Educator Award
KTSM-TV  |  NBC  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  El Paso, TX

Going the Extra Mile
Albuquerque Journal  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  Albuquerque, NM

Las Cruces Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award
KFOX-TV / KDBC-TV  |  FOX/CBS  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  El Paso, TX