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Retired New Mexico educator backs future K-12 teachers with NMSU scholarship

Retired New Mexico educator and administrator Deborah Detorie wants to make sure future leaders in New Mexico’s K-12 schools understand they are truly valued.


Detorie, who graduated from New Mexico State University in 1972, received a scholarship to help her pursue her degree in education. She explained that having a scholarship made her feel appreciated and capable of great success, and she wants current students pursing degrees in education to have the same encouragement.

So, at last year’s Giving Tuesday event, Detorie took advantage of available matching funds through the NMSU Foundation’s generous donors and decided to pay it forward, establishing the Dr. Deborah A. Detorie Endowed Scholarship in the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration for the College of Education.

Detorie’s career in kindergarten through post-secondary education spans 33 years, 27 of which were in the Albuquerque Public Schools where she became a highly regarded leader in New Mexico education. In 2000, she was named principal of Montezuma Elementary School and remained in that position until her retirement in 2012.

Her first position as a Title 1 reading teacher was eye-opening, and Detorie immediately understood where her career would take her.

“I never knew children could start school without knowing their last names or the names of colors,” she said. “I knew I had to figure out some way to help children who begin their education that far behind.”

Her passion to find solutions led her into administrative roles in schools with a high representation of underserved populations. In many of those schools, language barriers and poverty often contribute to children entering the school systems behind their peers. The challenges teachers and administrators face to bring the children up to speed, as well as their families, can be difficult. Detorie knew she would have the biggest impact as an educator by developing programming and guiding her colleagues to best help these young children.

It is her hope that recipients of her scholarship will share her passion to make a difference for students who come from those underserved populations in New Mexico.

“I want educators to be excited about going into those schools even though they’re hard,” Detorie said. “The truth of it is, really, in these schools, the world does rest on your shoulders. But, you can have such an important impact on teachers, on students, on families and on the entire district.”

Even though she is retired, Detorie still finds ways to help New Mexico youth and has been recognized for her efforts as an educator and advocate through Marquis Who’s Who. In 2013, she was an early advocate for the creation of the Albuquerque Public School District’s “Breakfast in the Classroom” program, a free breakfast program for students. Detorie also served as a regional board member for Playworks New Mexico - a nonprofit organization that provides training and support to New Mexico schools to transform recess and play into a positive experience.

Tina Byford, interim vice president of University Advancement, said Detorie’s endowment is another example of how NMSU alumni and friends are helping further the NMSU system’s mission to bolster K-12 education throughout the state, “Deborah understands some of the struggles school districts in New Mexico face, and we’re grateful that she’s taken steps to encourage future educators to make a difference for countless young lives across the state.”

For Detorie, transforming lives through education is somewhat a product of the era in which she grew up.

“I grew up in a time of great social change,” Detorie said. “I really believed that if we were going to end war, bring peace and save the world, we had to do it through education. And, I still believe that.”