Erin O’Toole, a gifted teacher at Rio Rancho Elementary School, was named as the Air & Space Forces Association New Mexico State Teacher of the Year.

O’Toole received the award for her devotion to STEM-focused education at RRES and beyond, and for her “dedication to ensuring that America’s students are prepared for the aerospace technological challenges of the future.”

O’Toole is in charge of RRES’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) lab. She also organizes the school’s annual STEAM night, during which students and their families have the opportunity to  isit campus to learn all about STEAM careers and their impact on the modern world.

“I was extremely surprised and honored when I found out I won the award. My curriculum always includes STEAM topics because I want to ensure students are exposed to real-world opportunities that they’re interested in,” O’Toole said. “We’ve participated in Mission to Mars with the Air Force Research Lab for two years, and our students are so excited for that opportunity. They are exposed to real-life skills while using their critical and creative thinking. At the end of the day, it’s all about the students, and I’m just doing a job I love, teaching topics and life skills that they’re interested in. I feel very blessed by this honor.”
The State Teacher of the Year award honors exemplary K-12 educators and Chapter Teacher of the Year winners at the AFA State level who make a profound difference in the lives of their students and in their community. State Teachers of the Year will receive $500, an AFA jacket, a certificate and a pin.
“She deserves it; Miss O’Toole is a great teacher,” a former student said.