Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 25, 2003 - Issue 79


pictograph divider


Cecelia Lucero, Laguna Elementary School Teacher, Named 2002 Disney's American Teacher Awards Honoree

Lucero Becomes First Native American Honoree in the 13-year History

"I am a child of the land. My father instilled in me a reverence for the land of my birth. He taught me a sense of place. In the words of Irving Standing Chief, 'In my grandfather's time, knowledge of the world was the power; in this generation, knowledge is the power of the world.' By integrating traditional Pueblo teachings into my environmental science lessons, my students are making a connection to their own sense of place through the knowledge they are gaining on our reservation. I am teaching a second generation of students and these children are sharing their knowledge with their parents who didn't have the opportunity to learn this in the past." -- Cecelia

Cecelia LuceroLAGUNA, New Mexico - Cecelia Lucero, a fourth grade teacher at Laguna Elementary School at Laguna Pueblo, N.M., has been selected a Disney's American Teacher Awards Honoree for 2002.

Lucero is full-blooded Native American enrolled at the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico. Lucero is one of 32 teachers selected from more than 185,000 nominees. Lucero has been teaching for 30+ years at the elementary school level, mainly at Laguna Elementary School, where she is now working with a second generation of students.

In July 2003, Lucero will be flown to Los Angeles with other outstanding teachers from across the country, who collectively will be received awards totaling $515,000, and who will be honored for their talents, skills and commitment to their profession.

"Our nation's teachers and their creativity are an integral component making a positive impact on our nation's future," said Michael D. Eisner, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. "Disney's American Teacher Awards is one way to recognize those whose dedication and devotion educate and help shape our nation's children. Cecelia Lucero exemplifies the best of the best. It is our honor to honor her and all the other teachers who do so much for so many."

Lucero, a member of the Pueblo of Acoma who teaches at a school where the student populations is 99.9% Native American, utilizes a wide variety of educational tools along with traditional Pueblo teachings in her classroom daily. Lucero uses the Keresan language as an integral part of what is taught when her students are engaged in thematic units. Keres is the traditional Native language of 7 of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Lucero also used traditional stories as a tool and as a connection to teach the Native American perspective of what occurs in nature. Lucero also uses legends along with scientific research on the cycle of the moon to help her students understand its different phases. Lucero's interest in the brain has led her to use brain compatible strategies, such as using music for a number of years to set a mood or to help the learning environment in her classroom. Lucero has used everything from Mozart, which requires abstract spatial reasoning, to rap songs that are educationally sound and conducive to a particular subject. It is the constructive engagement, combined with her genuine enthusiasm to teach that has earned Cecelia Lucero a Disney's American Teacher Award.

The 32 honorees, chosen by a national selection committee comprised of distinguished educators, are nominated in one of 10 teaching categories. In July 2003, one finalist will be selected in each category, and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year will be chosen by the honorees from among the 10 Finalists.

The 10 teaching categories include:

  • Elementary: Early Childhood, Primary and Intermediate
  • Middle School/Junior High: The Sciences and The Humanities
  • High School: The Sciences and The Humanities
  • Kindergarten through 12th Grade: The Arts; Special Needs & Gifted Education; Wellness and Sports

The Walt Disney Company will award $10,000 to each of the 32 honorees, and their respective schools will receive $5,000. The 10 category finalists each will receive an additional $5,000. The Outstanding Teacher of the Year will be awarded $25,000, with $10,000 being given to the Outstanding Teacher's school.

In addition to the awards ceremony and monetary contributions, honorees will participate in a unique professional development program focused on innovative approaches to teaching and learning and leadership development. The teachers and their principals will attend a workshop in October 2003 at the Walt Disney Resort® in Orlando, Fla., where they will learn how to share their creative teaching practices, and also develop an action plan focused on improving professional collaboration and teacher learning in their schools during the 2003-2004 school year.

Since 1989, Disney's American Teacher Awards have saluted exemplary teachers in Kindergarten through 12th grade for innovative teaching methods that actively engage students in learning. The focus of Disney's American Teacher Awards is to recognize the teaching profession, showcase creativity in the classroom and honor those who assist in developing creative teaching strategies in their school districts.

The honorees were chosen by a selection committee comprised of representatives of the following organizations: American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, The Council for American Private Education, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Great City Schools, The Galef Institute, Harvard University's Project Zero, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Education Association, National Middle School Association and National PTA. In addition, past Disney's American Teacher Awards honorees have served on the selection committee.

Disney's American Teacher Awards is part of DisneyHand, the worldwide outreach for the Walt Disney Company, whose mission is dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through focused public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in areas including learning, compassion, the arts and the environment. For more information on Disney's American Teacher Awards and Cecelia Lucero's Honoree web page, please visit

We are proud to announce the selection of 32 teachers as Honorees for Disney's American Teacher Awards 2002-03. This award honors outstanding representatives of the teaching profession who construct creative learning environments in which students and teachers alike explore, imagine and engage in a variety of thought-provoking experiences. These Honorees were selected from more than 185,000 nominations submitted by students, parents, educators and community members representing all regions of the country.

Laguna, NM Map
Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!