CNM Alumna Wins Prestigious Golden Apple Educator Award

For Cynthia Rodriguez, this award proves the importance of hard work and perseverance
November 29, 2022

CNM alumnus Cynthia Rodriguez was recently chosen as one of just seven educators to win the 2022 Golden Apple award, which recognizes the state’s most outstanding teachers. The award is an enormous honor, but for Cynthia the award is also a high point in an educational journey that saw some bumps along the way.

Back in third grade, Cynthia only knew words she’d memorized but struggled to read. She was placed in special education classes until ninth grade and her teachers told her she could never go to college. 

Determined to prove everyone wrong, Cynthia finished high school and enrolled at CNM because she wanted smaller classes. She originally studied liberal arts, but found her true calling after helping a friend with math. 

“I started helping my best friend with her algebra II class,” Cynthia says. “I had so much fun helping her work through problems, explaining concepts, and even showing her how to take notes. She was my inspiration to teach.”

After that light bulb moment, Cynthia started studying education and eventually graduated with her associate degree in Teacher Education. Along with her strong desire to get an education, Cynthia credits her success to the dedication of CNM professors.

“My favorite part of CNM by far was the fact that you could schedule time to talk to your teachers,” Cynthia says. “They were always so patient and would help me anytime I had problems.” 

She transferred to UNM, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Almost as soon as she graduated, Cynthia was hired as a middle school math teacher at Rio Rancho public schools and has been there ever since. 

To win the Golden Apple award, Cynthia was nominated by a colleague and then went through an application process and a classroom observation. Parents, colleagues, students, and the principal of her school were also interviewed during the process. 

For Cynthia, winning this award highlights her determination to succeed. 

“I’m still shocked by the whole thing,” Cynthia says. “I was told so many times that I couldn’t even go to college, but that only inspired me to try harder. As a teacher, I'll never give up on a kid. I always show up for them, unlike the people that didn’t show up for me.” 

As a winner of the Golden Apple, Cynthia received a professional development grant. She is excited to use this money to learn new techniques that she can share with other teachers. 

“I’m excited to go to trainings again and bring that knowledge back to help mentor teachers,” she says.

As she looks to the future, Cynthia wants to continue helping students no matter what. 

“My goal is to learn something new every day and to always be better at what I do,” she says. “I want to reach every single student I can.”