Frank Gonzales, Computer Science 

by Julia Ross

Q: What drew you to work at the Academy?

A: I am an alumnus from the class of 1984. Also, both my boys are alumni and I worked on the maintenance crew for a long time. Then [I] worked in the programing industry for about 16 years and created a product that can teach kids how to write firmware. So, I thought at that time it would be really great to come back to the Academy and teach what’s going on in the industry right now.

Q: Is this your first teaching job, or have you taught before?

A: [I] was on the faculty in ‘96 and ‘97 for the New Mexico Media Literacy Project. I taught a couple classes back then and really enjoyed it. I have taught all around the country and Canada. I teach audio and video classes about how to write iPhone and Android apps to control hardware.

Q:What’s the funniest or strangest experience you have had thus far?

A: I don’t know if I’ve been here long enough to have a strange or funny experience. But, I was excited to hear that there was a Shred club for guitar players that Dr. Nick Rubie is running. Shred is a term for guitar players who like to play fast on electric guitar. I played in a Van Halen Tribute band for a while, and so that got me really excited.

Q: What makes a good day at school for you?

A: Watching the kids get excited. Currently we are in the process of learning how to write iPhone and Android apps to control hardware. Watching them write their apps and turn them on and off is very exciting.

Q: What current trends are exciting or baffling to you, and why?

A: I find the trend of the internet of things exciting, and all of these connected devices that are seen all over the place: from thermostats, to door hinges, to lights.

Q: What would the students be surprised to find out about you?

A:  I played in a Van Halen tribute band. There’s some video online of that stuff and it’s pretty funny to see. The last time we played was ten years ago, and it ran for about three years. I’ve been playing since I was seventeen, so I played in all the clubs. And, both my boys play as well.

Q:Do you have any guilty pleasures?

A:Haagen dazs coffee ice cream. I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure or more of a problem and addiction.

Q:Do you have any hidden talents? If so what are they?

A: I do a lot of videography. I film big shows with seven camera shoots and a major team of cameramen and then edit the videos for blu-ray. I have edited all of the blu-ray navigation for some of the major films out there. One of them was called Inside the Revolution and another was called Epicenter. The filmmaker who did that, who was just a kid, (I did all the blu-ray for that) now made a major motion picture called Persecuted that came out in theaters.

Note: To see and hear Frank in action check out this throwback video shot by Dale Waseda:

Jennifer Coston, 7th Grade English 

by Julia Ross

Q: What drew you to work at the Academy?

A: The Academy has a reputation for having a rigorous academic program and students who are eager to learn, and both of those are very important things for me. I was drawn to the fact that I could teach children who really wanted to learn and kids who want to be challenged.

Q: Is this your first teaching job, or have you taught before?

A: I taught middle school at a couple of different schools here in Albuquerque in APS. I taught at Desert Ridge and Ernie Pyle.

Q: Did you attend college or grad school? If so, where?

A: I have an undergraduate English degree from the University of Texas San Antonio and I have a law degree from [the] University of Texas in Austin.

Q: Are you enjoying your experience at the Academy thus far?

A: I love it. The staff here are incredibly supportive and collaborative. They work really well together so I’m really enjoying that. Also, I love the diverse student population here. I love that they are engaged and excited to be here.

Q: What is the funniest or strangest experience you have had at the Academy so far?

A: The first or second day of school, I assigned my classes a group project, and this group project was based on books they had read of the summer. It required that at least several people had read the same book so I could put them in a group. I had a few kids who were the only ones who had read the book, and it’s really hard to do a group project by yourself. As soon as we had figured that out, I had three kids in one class offer to read an entire novel over the weekend; they said, “No Mrs. Coston it’s okay  I’ll just read a whole new book!” I have never ever experienced this before in my life. I even tried to talk them out of it, but they still wanted to do it.

Q: What makes a good day at school?

A: Getting here on time, being able to get my lunch before  all the kids pile in, having all of my organizational pieces in place. Just as important as it is for kids to be organized, it is also important for teachers to be organized. And no computer issues makes a good day as well.

Q: What current trends are baffling to you? Why?

A: I’m not that baffled by anything that teens do, because teens are so driven anyway. I completely understand their draw to tech, it doesn’t mean I particularly like it, but I understand it. I guess, when teenagers do anything, it doesn’t really surprise me.

Q:What would students be surprised to find out about you?

A:I love to sing and I love to dance. I listen to a wide variety of music. I love Imagine Dragons, Atlas Genius, and Miranda Lambert’s music.

Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

A: A pastry, a cup of hot tea, and a really good British mystery.

Elizabeth Payne, English 

by Hannah Topf

Q:What did you teach before this teaching job?

A: Before I taught here I was also a middle school English teacher at Albuquerque School of Excellence. It is a little charter school. I taught 7th grade English, 8th grade English and also a school journalism elective.

Q: What are you most excited about this year?

A: I am most excited about coming back to this community. I was a student at Albuquerque Academy and I think it is really exciting to come back to this community and get to know all of the new students. I like coming back and visiting the community that I used to be in.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Albuquerque Academy?

A: My favorite thing about the academy is the students. Without fail I think that all of the grades are representated by respectfully young people who are going to take over the world. I am really grateful to be a part of that.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: Outside of school I am pretty busy, I am a wife, and a mom. I’ve got three kids, two step-daughters and a son, they keep me very busy but when I find time from that, teaching,wife-ing and mom-ing, I like to run, I like to do pilates. I am actually a pilates instructor. I have three dogs, 2 Great Danes, and a Yorkie.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Pasta. Any kind of pasta.

Q: What is your favorite color?

A:I think it is a toss up between blue and green, but I will go with blue.

Q: What are your favorite books that you have read this summer?

A: I really like The Book Thief. It was wonderful I think I enjoyed it the most out of all of the books I reads this summer.

Q: What is your favorite season in the year?

A: Fall, I think fall in New Mexico is the best because it gets a little bit cool in the morning. Also I love the colors and the balloon fiesta and green chile.

Q: In the winter do you ski or snowboard?

A: I ski and I am actually from Taos, a little town a few hours north of here. My step-mom is a ski instructor up there and she has been a ski instructor for longer than I have been alive. I have tried snowboarding a couple of time but I am a skier. Also Taos is where I go because my family still lives up there.

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