Welcoming new teachers and faculty [Exclusive uncut interview transcripts]


Academy Staff


Mark Kevan

What brings you to Albuquerque? We moved here three years ago to be closer to family. The day that we were moving down here, I accepted a job to teach Chemistry at Rio Rancho.

What are you going to be teaching at the Academy? Chemistry.

What did you teach before this? I taught all of chemistry  the first year at Rio Rancho. Then with my AP experience I taught AP the next year. And then this year they wanted me to teach all AP but then I left. But I have always been a Chemistry teacher. Two years ago they needed another chemistry teacher and because they had my [information] on file I got to teach chemistry during the summer. That was my opening. It was a great summer gig.

Where did you grow up? Omaha, Nebraska

What would you say is the most interesting thing about you? I love teaching. I love what I do. Outside of that I love trail running and my wife, and my three kids. When I’m not teaching, it’s like when can I go on a trail run or go on an adventure with my family. So my life is kind of simple. One thing that usually surprises people though is I graduated college with a degree in Russian Literature and Language. I went to college in Russia. I love Russian literature and history. When I graduated I wasn’t a teacher out of college. I did youth ministry for five years. So I was on staff with an organization called Young Life, which was a non-denominational ministry. So working with high school students is something I’ve always been passionate about. And I was still helping out with cross country.

How do you feel about coming to teach at the Albuquerque Academy? I am excited about it. The cool thing is I know that what I’m doing is what I’m supposed to be doing. I love teaching. I love challenging kids. The past two summers, the kids have been kind and great to work with. I’m excited to build those relationships and for have smaller classes with more time. I am also looking forward to the expectation of students to have connection with teachers not just inside the classroom but outside as well. Helping more one on one, over all, that’s what I really love about teaching – when you sit down one on one and go over problems. That’s when you really start to see the light bulbs light up. I get it. That makes sense.

If you had to join or start a club, what would it be? Well, I know that that’s the one thing I don’t know how it will all play out. I know the fifth responsibility of the teacher is to do something else. But I think coaching down the road would be fun. Since I teach science, it’s kind of nice to help in an area outside of that. That’s what I like about running. But it sounds like the Academy is pretty open to ideas. But I don’t know. Definitely my biggest desire is to do something with running.


Heather Tyndall

What are you going to be teaching? Librarian.

What did you teach before this? History for five [years] and then I had my kids and when they were little I decided to go back to school to be a librarian. What is kind of funny is my mom is a librarian, my grandma is a librarian and my aunt in a librarian. It’s kind of a family joke. “Oh we knew you’d become a librarian.” Oh and people always say… aren’t you kind of loud to be a librarian? The school that I’m coming from is all girls. It was from kindergarten to 12th grade. I taught sixth to12th.

Where did you grow up? I grew up here. Not too far from UNM law school. I went to Albuquerque High School and graduated in 1984. Some of my friends went here. I actually went to a homecoming dance here in 1982. I am sure Mr. Smith was a chaperone then.

What is your favorite Book? I could never tell you what my favorite book is. But I could tell you the most recent one that I read that I liked. It’s called All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

If you had to join or start a club, what would it be? I think it would be cool to start a cycling club. It’s one of those activities that you can keep doing as you get older.

Of the top of your head what is an interesting fact  about yourself? I met John Green at Young Adult Literature Conference in Chicago. They were giving out the first two chapters of Fault in Our Stars.


Jaclyn Houtman

What brings you to Albuquerque? Teaching at Albuquerque Academy. I just moved here from Amsterdam.

What are you going to be teaching? I am part of the Peterson Learning center. We offer support for students with special needs or who have trouble being self-advocates in their classes.

What did you teach before this? I was a math teacher.

What are you looking forward to most about coming to the Albuquerque Academy? Working with the students. I have heard really great things from the teachers about the students. In my previous school, it was an international school and it was a different student body and lots of different nationality. What happened was they moved a lot. You’d have a student for two or three years and then they would move. Here, there is more of a community.

Hobbies? I love surfing. I like to cook. And since I can’t surf, I do yoga. At my college you could take surfing.

If you had to join or start a club, what would it be? I’m really interested in yoga club, but you already have a class. I would probably want to start a club with an international aspect. Just to be able to connect US students to the international students.


Marcela Espinoza

What brings you to Academy? The opportunity to work at such a prestige school, in a fantastic environment with great colleges and talented students.

What are you going to be teaching? I will be teaching sixth grade Spanish.

Where did you work before this? Did you come from out of state or have you been in New Mexico? I was Spanish level II-III-IV-AP teacher at Cibola High School for five years. I have been teaching for 12 years, my current subject Spanish. I have always taught Spanish.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Vina del Mar, Chile, where I got my Spanish teaching degree.

What are you looking forward to about the academy? To work in an environment where I can fully express my talent as a teacher, and learn from top level teachers.

What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? I like to travel when I can, knit, and dance. In my free time I love to spend time with my family and go “girls shopping” with my two girls (only two and seven years old). I like watching international soccer, and like to exercise.

If you had to join or form a club at the Albuquerque Academy, what would it be? I would like to join or form a Latin cultural club.


Christine Lenhart

What subject are you going to be teaching? I am going to be teaching seventh grade math and I am going to be the seventh grade Dean.

Where did you grow up? I am actually an alum and I graduated from here in 1994. I grew up here and then left to Notre Dame for college for my Undergraduate. I got my masters in Education. But my major was in Finance, so I wasn’t always an education person.

What did you do before this? I taught second grade and fourth through ninth grade. I also worked as a school administrator. My last job was as a school administrator in California. This will be my first job in New Mexico. I taught in six states before we moved back here. We actually moved back here to be closer to family 8 years ago. I have a daughter and she is about to start kindergarten. I haven’t “worked” in eight years under an employer. I had a business out of my house as an education consultant. Lots of Academy kids went there actually.  And I have been working on my PhD. I am what they call ABD status so i am working on my dissertation and will be for the next couple years.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy playing tennis but I haven’t had much time for that lately. I enjoy mountain biking. My husband jokes that I always go back to school so school is kind of like my hobby. I really enjoy being outdoors. Mountain, biking, hiking, tennis.

How do you feel about coming back to teach at the Academy? I am really excited to come back. Especially because I have that connection with this place from being a student here. Also there are still a lot of teachers here. Which is kind of funny. I have taught at private and public schools and what I really like about the Academy is that people who are in administration also get the opportunity to teach. It really is a unique opportunity. It is going to be a totally different perspective going back to teach. When I worked as an administrator, I loved working in administration, but I really missed teaching. So I am excited to get back to working so closely with kids.

If you had to join or form a club, what would it be? I think it would be cool to set up a sort of math outreach learning in other communities with math. There are a lot of students outside of the Academy that need help with math. I am trying to set up a sort of website, kind of like Khan Academy where students help other students explain concepts online. We could partner with other schools. It would be a connection with Academy and other schools. It’s obviously in its first stages but is something I am thinking about.


Ben Dolan

What are you going to be teaching? Tenth Grade English

Have you always lived in Albuquerque? I haven’t. I grew up in Houston. North of Houston, in an area kind of like Rio Rancho but for Houston. And then I lived in College Station Texas, where I went to College. Then I lived in Santa Fe, and then I lived in Washington, and then I lived in an RV driving around and then I lived in Albuquerque.  I lived in an RV for about a year. I was in Washington for a little bit, California for a little bit, and back in Santa Fe for a little bit. It was fun, close quarters. Just me, Driving around by myself.

What did you do before this? I have been teaching at UNM. I taught three years as a graduate student and then one year after I finished my bachelors, so four years total.

What are you looking forward to about teaching at the Academy?  Well, I told this to a lot of people. When I went to your guy’s class, we had a better discussion in there then I ever had in a college course. So I’M SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THAT. I’m excited even if it doesn’t happen every day, I’m excited about it happening maybe once a week. So, that’s what I’m most excited about. I am also really excited about all these other teachers that are so amazing. I’m excited about that.

Do you have any hobbies? Well, I got some goats. It doesn’t really sound like a hobby because all I really do is feed them and watch them go around but it’s a lot of time. And chickens and gardens. I love to ride bikes so I ride my bike a lot. I love to read. I love to write. Cooking. I love to cook. I wish there was something cool like I made Ice sculptures.  Goats are devious beings. I have two. I want to have goat milk. That is the project of the fall. Cause getting goats pregnant is more difficult than you’d think. Cause male goats are so nuts. I want to get a male goat but it’s all these kind of like factors have to align for that to happen. But there is a science teacher here, his name is Chris Peknik. He has goats and he recently got his goats pregnant. So I’m kind of excited about talking to him about the birds and the bees with the goats. Cause, I think we are going to be able to work something out. All that to say, in order to have goat milk and goat cheese you first need to have a baby goat. So they are not even pregnant yet. It’s coming though. They don’t know it yet but it’s coming.

What brings you to the Academy? I love teaching. I am just trying to find a place to teach. And so I was really nervous about teaching high school. I was applying to all the college jobs that I could find and finally some was like you should really think about prep schools. So I looked at Albuquerque Academy’s website and saw that they teach a lot of the courses that I teach in college. And then I saw all the cool stuff going on and then I applied and then the rest is history. Ms. Matter just happened to be going away, and I got the interview and teach with you guys and all that has kind of brought me here. And it’s beautiful.

If you had to join or start a club, what would it be? Is there a tree lovers club? I love trees, and I love fruit trees! You know they are putting in an orchard, which makes me really excited. But I don’t even know what a club would do that likes trees or an orchard club. Cause you can’t do a lot. Maybe we would just talk about it. Eat apples. OR maybe just a ride your bike club. Just ride around. I’m not really competitive, I just kind of like to ride.


Lizeth Trevizo

What subject are you going to be teaching? Seventh Grade Spanish

What bring you to the Academy? Well I had heard wonderful things about the Academy. The community is cool and also the students. They said they are wonderful. When I heard there was a chance to work here, I really wanted to try and so I came and everyone, from the students to the teachers were all so welcoming and they were so nice to me. I was a little nervous but they made my day so great that I said I really want to teach here. And I did get the job so it was wonderful.

What did you do before this? I graduate from UNM a year and a half ago and I finished my masters in Spanish Linguistics and then when I graduated I went to work at another independent school. It’s called Sandia Prep. And then I worked there for a year. Before that I was working at UNM. I was teaching at doing research.

Where did you live before this? I have been here for three years. I moved here when I started my masters from Santa Fe. Because every day coming from Santa Fe can get really tiring. I am originally from Mexico and I came here about ten eleven years ago to New Mexico. There are more opportunities here to study and teach. I lived here for about three years and then I moved to Florida about five years and then I came back and that’s when I went to Santa Fe and then from there to here.  I loved it there, except for the hurricane season. That was not fun.

How do you feel about coming to the Academy? I am really excited and I’ve had a great first couple of days. It’s been so much more than I expected. And they are great students so I am really happy.

Do you have any hobbies? I love hiking. I love traveling too. That’s one of my passions. Cooking too. Cooking and baking. That’s my other thing. Anytime that I have time, I will be cooking and baking. I also like reading and scrapbooking. I do family pictures mostly. I like to have my albums and usually the reason I make is mostly just to give them away as a present. Like to my mom, or my grandmother. Or a birthday coming up ill make a small one. Not so much for me anymore, cause as you know, technology has everything covered.

If you had to join or start a club, what would it be? A Spanish Club! Only because I can think of a lot of things that we can do. I am not sure exactly what it would be like because I have so many ideas. It could be just like a conversational group but we would also have like different topics we could talk about or even some event that related to Spanish culture or any of the many countries that speak Spanish.  So many different things that we could do.

Anything else you would like to say? Just that I am really excited to be here. I’m looking forward to getting to know more of the students and more of the teachers and working with everyone so that I can learn from them and hopefully we can like share ideas. I am just really excited about this year. I think it is going to be a wonderful year.


Roy Morgan

What brings you to the academy? Really, I never left. I graduated in 1985, and after two years, came back to coach with Coach Brown. I also started teaching summer school as well. In addition, I taught English and Social Studies to 7th and 8th graders in Rio Rancho. Five years ago, I was hired here full time to coach, work in Admissions, and teach PE. AA has always been part of my life since I was 10 years old.

What are you going to be teaching? I will be teaching 6th grade social studies.

Where did you work before this? Did you come from out of state or have you been in New Mexico? Up until I was hired her full-time five years ago, I worked in the Rio Rancho Public Schools.

How many years have you been teaching, your current subject and any previous subjects?   I am starting my 23rd year teaching, but this is my first in 6th grade social studies.

Where did you grow up? I grew up here and entered AA at 10 when 5th grade still existed here.

What are you looking forward to about the academy?  I am looking forward to a new challenge here in 6th grade.

What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? I don’t have a lot of free time between teaching, coaching, and chasing my 8 and 6 year olds to all of their activities, but I do like to golf and travel.

If you had to join or form a club at the Albuquerque Academy, what would it be? Basketball, of course.