Jun. 19 — Longtime Santa Fe Public Schools teacher Stephanie Gurule-Leyba, who helped blaze a pathway for Ortiz Middle School and Capital High students interested in biomedical sciences and career exploration, is leaving the classroom to become an assistant principal at St. Michael’s High School.
Gurule-Leyba’s hiring follows the promotion of outgoing assistant principal Arlana Kingsbury, who was recently named interim principal at St. Michael’s. Kingsbury follows Sam Govea, who announced his resignation in April after 12 years.
Gurule-Leyba said she’d previously hesitated to become an administrator in her 26 years of teaching. But her father, longtime Las Vegas, NM, educator Gene Gurule, had asked her to entertain the possibility shortly before he died of COVID-19 in 2020.
“I had promised him I would seriously consider it and really think about it,” she said. “I’m not going to know unless I try; I’m not going to grow unless I step outside the comfort zone.”
During her time with Santa Fe Public Schools, Gurule-Leyba established the hands-on Scrub Club for elementary and middle schoolers interested in gaining science and math experiences. In 2017, she was named New Mexico Teacher of the Year.
In 2018, she left Capital High School, where she’d worked for more than two decades – first as a special-education teacher and later in teaching biomedical sciences – to bring biomedical classes to Ortiz.
She was honored this year with a Golden Apple Award for her work in inspiring young students to consider their career options early. She received the award at a surprise ceremony in May.
Gurule-Leyba, a graduate of New Mexico Highlands University, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in learning, instruction and innovation at Walden University in Minnesota. She hopes to complete her dissertation by summer 2023.
Two of her three children have attended or are attending St. Michael’s.
Gurule-Leyba, whose family is Catholic, said her daughter chose to attend Capital to take advantage of dual-credit options and more career / technical education.
That’s something Gurule-Leyba would like to encourage at St. Mike’s, particularly in STEM fields surrounding science, technology, engineering and math.
“That’s going to continue to be my goal regardless of where I’m at – to push this career exploration piece, at least starting in middle school,” she said. “It’s something I’m very passionate about.”