The New Mexico Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) awarded three teachers from Las Cruces Public Schools with top honors for helping students succeed and for their community involvement in CTE programs. The awards were announced during the ACTE state conference in September.

Marissa Prentice of Centennial High School was named Teacher of the Year by the New Mexico ACTE for 2020-2021. This award recognizes the finest career and technical teachers at the middle/secondary school level who have demonstrated innovation in the classroom, commitment to their students and dedication to the improvement of CTE in their institutions and communities.

Marissa Prentice

Prentice teaches film/broadcast at Centennial High School. She is also an instructor for the Arts AV & CTE program for LCPS. She also serves as the department head for the Electives and CTE programs at Centennial. Prentice has been an educator for 15 years, devoting 13 of those years teaching at LCPS. Prentice says her biggest success is watching her students succeed.

“When my students are winning and bringing home awards, that speaks volumes of me as a teacher,” Prentice said. “When I see them achieve, and I see them do great things, and they’re happy and excited, that to me is more rewarding than any award I could earn myself.”

Centennial High School, NMAA Scholastic Publications State Champions 2020

Students in Prentice’s film/broadcast classes attend the annual Student Television Network National Conference (STN), where students compete in a full news broadcast competition known as The Crazy Eight Competition, a day when students must produce a news broadcast show in less than eight hours. Many of her students have brought home back-to-back regional first place awards in the Broadcast Excellence competition. This past year, students competed in a competition for the Journalism Education Association, placing top ten in the nation for Broadcast Best in Show. Last year, Prentice had a student win Journalist of the Year for New Mexico and was set to be honored at the National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Prentice says she’s had so many students find great internships upon graduation, many eventually working in the field of broadcast.

Gregory Mallory, of Oñate High School, was selected New Teacher of the Year by the New Mexico ACTE for 2020-2021. This award recognizes new CTE teachers who have made significant contributions toward innovative and unique career and technical education programs and shown a professional commitment early in their careers.

Mallory has been an educator for three years and currently teaches Health Occupations 1, an intro class for Health and Public Service Pathways to freshmen and a variety of upperclassmen. Mallory also coaches football and track at Oñate. In 2019, he was nominated for the LCPS Teacher of the Year award.

Gregory Mallory

Mallory said his love for teaching stemmed from his fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Pat Puckett. She instilled the importance of always putting school first, balancing academics and athletics. Mallory said his DECA teacher in high school, Ms. Klein, reinforced the importance of making education a top priority. She mentored Mallory and motivated him to participate in clubs and compete in state competitions.

“She was just really one of those teachers, especially in high school who said, ‘class before sports,’” Mallory stated. “That is what I ultimately preach and teach to all my student athletes. I’ve always had that desire to give back tenfold what was given to me.”

Mallory says he loves teaching and mentoring students, especially those who may need more support in the classroom or on the field. He added that he works with wonderful teachers and coaches and thanked the Principal at Oñate, Jim Schapekahm for his support.

Rachel Knight, of Las Cruces Public Schools, won Teacher Educator of the Year by the New Mexico ACTE for 2020-2021. This award recognizes teacher educators who have demonstrated innovation in teacher education, leadership in improving CTE, and commitment to preparing teachers to deliver high quality CTE programs.

Rachel Knight

Knight is the LCPS Career Specialist and Academic Career Experience teacher. Knight has been with the district for 15 years. She started her career as an educator at Picacho Middle School, teaching seventh-grade science along with seventh & eighth-grade ag-science and was the advisor for FFA Chapter at the school. Knight later went on to teach science and agriculture at Centennial High School. She started the FFA Chapter there, while serving as department head for the Career and Technical Education program. In 2018 Mrs. Knight became the Career Specialist for the district.

Knight comes from a family of educators. Her mother was an elementary school teacher and administrator for LCPS for many years; while her father was a professor of Agriculture at New Mexico State University for 30 years.

Among her many accomplishments, Rachel was chosen in 2013 as the National Ag-Science Teacher Ambassador by the National Association of Agricultural Educators, allowing her to attend many professional development trainings and speak at national conferences. In 2018, Knight was named LCPS Teacher of the Year. Knight said her passion for teaching comes directly from working with students. Knight is currently working to expand FFA chapters in middle schools at LCPS.

About ACTE

ACTE is the largest national education association serving thousands of professionals dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. Its members represent all facets of career and technical education (CTE) and include:

  • Secondary and middle school CTE teachers and administrators
  • Postsecondary CTE instructors, faculty, administrators and deans
  • Guidance counselors
  • Students studying to become CTE educators
  • Federal and state government education professionals
  • Nonprofit organizations active in the advancement of CTE
  • Corporations working with CTE programs and educators on workplace skills

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-635-9303,