All posts by Nina Gonzales

Field Trip: UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts

So what’s with the big, green screen? Students from TECC’s Reading and Writing for Career Pathways Class learned about the art and science of video production at UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts on Wednesday (April 5). Their visit was part of a class on media literacy.

Enrico Trujillo, a multi-media service specialist, not only gave the ins and outs of digital production, he led a hands-on lesson.

Trujillo directed five student volunteers in a few scenes in front of the green screen. He explained that the screen’s color will enable him to replace it with another background via the computer. In this case, the students would be going on a safari rather than acting inside the studio.

Other TECC students manned the camera, monitored sound and held the microphone.

Trujillo instructed the students to act in three clips: wandering in a park, looking startled, and then running for their lives. “Then we’re going to have a surprise animal,” he said.

Later Trujillo used computer technology to replace the green screen background with an image of a savannah in Africa — and a lion that appeared to be chasing the students.

Students also got a lesson in using the teleprompter when speaking in front of the camera.

Thanks to Enrico Trujillo and UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts for the lesson.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Enrico Trujillo demonstrates how he uses the computer to edit the short video.

On Project-Based Learning

The Taos Education and Career Center is closed this week, March 13-17, due to spring break. But last week students who participated in project-based learning activities reported on their experiences.

Students were linked with local businesses and agencies tied to their career interests. They gave presentations to their colleagues.

Seth, who is interested in working as a game warden, met with Cheron Ferland, a wildlife biologist at the Carson National Forest’s ranger station in Tres Piedras. Seth reported he went out in the field with Cheron and another staffer.

Fabiana and Shawnie met with Rima Ralff, a therapist at NonviolenceWorks. Both students want to help others who are struggling with problems.

Madison and Curtis toured UNM-Taos’ new medical training center next door. Madison is interested in neuroscience while Curtis wants to work as an emergency medical technician.

Ryan and Aliyah visited Guerilla Graphix, where owner Travis Parkin told them about the ins and outs, pluses and minuses of owning a business.

Corwynn, who wants to be a truck driver, had a one-on-one with Max Kaufman, who leads UNM-Taos’ CDL Program.

Thank you, professionals, for sharing your insights with out students.

Dallas Loretto named Outstanding Student of the Year

Dallas Loretto, a recent graduate of the Taos Educational and Career Center (TECC), was named an Outstanding Student of the Year by the state of New Mexico.

Loretto, 29, was one of several students in adult education programs who were recognized at the state Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Feb. 22.

“I was surprised and thankful to the Creator for the many blessings on my quest for sobriety,” he said.

Nina Gonzales, program specialist at TECC, nominated Loretto for the honor. TECC is one of 28 adult education programs in the state.

Loretto, of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, moved from Dulce to Taos in fall 2015. He began attending TECC the following January.

He said he moved to Taos, where his parents currently live, to better himself. Seeking his high school equivalency was part of that goal.

Loretto said after dropping out of high school that he made bad choices and struggled with alcohol. A turning point came when he was hospitalized for alcoholism.

He became determined to get his high school equivalency and pursue a degree in sociology so he could counsel others who are struggling with substance abuse. He completed his high school equivalency in October 2016.

TECC became his refuge because of its supportive and compassionate staff, he says.

“It’s where I could get away from the stresses of my past,” he said. “I could focus on bettering my future.”

Loretto admits that studying for his high school equivalency wasn’t always easy. There were setbacks but he was able to overcome them with support.

“I came here for some learning and walked out with some knowledge,” he said. “I encourage others who don’t have their GED to make it a goal. It takes time. There may be difficulties. But the end result is rewarding and can open many doors.”

Learning about Financial Literacy

Students at the Taos Education & Career Center (TECC) got a hands-on lesson about managing money at the Writing and Reading for Career Pathways Class held Wednesday (Feb. 15).

Germaine Mitchell, Financial Empowerment Outreach Coordinator for the Guadalupe Credit Union and a TECC board member, led the three-hour workshopFL Lesson 2 funded by a grant. Employees from Guadalupe Credit Union and Taos Milagro Rotary volunteers assisted.

Mitchell told students that Guadalupe’s mission is to help community members with their financial needs. “We’re actually people who are helping other people,” she said.

The workshop began with an assessment of what students knew about managing money. Guadalupe reps then explained the ins and outs of financial literacy via a PowerPoint presentation.

FL lesson 5Mitchell said the cost of living affects a person’s financial future — and how the cost of living and wages can impact one’s chosen lifestyle.

After a pizza lunch supplied by Guadalupe Credit Union, students participated in the Reality Fair.

Each student was given a sheet listing the income for a certain position. They visited tables manned by volunteers from Taos Milagro Rotary, where they learned how much it would cost them to have, for instance, an apartment, internet, clothing, etc. Those costs were added to their sheets. Then there was the Wheel of Reality, where a spin could determine a plus — income from a part-time job — or a minus — an unexpected pricey car repair.

FL Lesson 3FL lesson 4At the end, the students were able to see if they made enough money to live the kind of lifestyle they wanted.

The workshop at TECC is one of several that Guadalupe Credit Union has held at schools in Northern New Mexico.

Guadalupe Credit Union is located at 115 La Posta Road, Taos. For more call 575-758-3899 or visit


Three questions with Gary Yamane

Gary Yamane is the first person that students and visitors are likely to meet when they enter the Taos Education and Career Center. He took a break from his busy day as TECC’s office manager to answer three questions.

What did you do before you came to TECC?

I was teaching a guitar class and working as the registrar at a small charter high school in Albuquerque. That was a year. Prior to that I taught at Moreno Valley High School in Angel Fire for 11 years teaching music. I was teaching guitar. I had beginner and intermediate classes. I had a rock band and taught a world music class.

What’s your role here at TECC?

I am the admin. assistant. So, I do the paperwork, the data base. I manage the office. All this copying you see here, I just did all that for Nina (Gonzales). It’s helping out teachers, helping Nina and Judy (Hofer). I make sure all the forms are up to date. I schedule the orientations. It’s all that background stuff that sort of glues things together.

What’s the best part about working at TECC?

It’s the students, of course. They’re just great. It’s so inspiring to see that people are interested in furthering their education and careers no matter what their age is — and that they’re dedicated to doing that. I’m proud to be a part of that.


Classes are Back in Session

After a holiday break and orientation, students at the Taos Education and Career Center (TECC) were back in class this week for the fourth session.

TECC assists students, age 16 and up, to prepare for their high school equivalency exams and what else they need to have a career. ESL classes are held in the evening.

On Wednesday, the Reading and Writing for Career Pathways class, co-taught by Nina Gonzales and Joan Livingston, got down to reading basics, such as finding the main idea and supporting details quickly in non-fiction text. They also worked with novels and briefly shared their experiences about reading.

The students also did career exploration on the Web via the computer lab and tablets.

Thursday and Friday, many of the same students have social studies and science classes, plus math.

So what careers are the students’ interested in pursuing? They range from the medical field, cosmetology, culinary arts, law enforcement, tattoo artistry to being business owners. TECC’s center will do its best to help them fulfill their dreams.

TECC is located at 115 Civic Plaza Drive, Taos. Phone: (575) 737-6200.

Learning about the Plight of Migrants

Students and staff at the Taos Education & Career Center got a lesson Wednesday, Dec. 7 on the severe price many pay as they attempt to migrate to the U.S.

Jody Ipsen speaks at the Taos Education & Career Center.

Guest speaker Jody L. Ipsen, who was visiting from Arizona, talked about the Tucson Sector, where nearly 3,000 people have died from hypothermia, hyperthermia, and dehydration as they attempted to make their trek on foot across the border. She noted because the U.S. has limited access via walls, Mexican and Central American migrants must now travel through the desert and mountains.

Ipsen, who grew up in Tucson, first joined a group called Humane Borders that leaves jugs of water in the Sonoran Desert, where the temperature can reach 120 degrees in the summer. She has also camped in remote areas with doctors to provide medical care, food, and other supplies. Their aim, she said, was not to encourage the migrants but to help anyone in distress.

She is also a member of Los Desconocidos and The Migrant Quilt Project, which offers humanitarian aid by providing water and cleaning lay-up sites, where migrants leave behind possessions to lighten their load.

Ipsen displayed four quilts memorializing those who died along the way. Many of the dead were identified, but far more were unknown — desconocidos. The fabric used for the quilts was taken from the clothing found discarded at lay-up sites.

As part of her talk, Ipsen gave a PowerPoint presentation, in which she told the story in words and photos about a few women who had died during their crossing. “What the eyes don’t see, the heart can’t feel,” she said.

Ipsen also spoke about the impact of U.S. policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed in 1994 that she said has affected the Mexican economy negatively. In one story about a Mexican woman who was found dead, she noted the family had been farming beans for generations but could not compete with the cheap U.S. government-subsidized beans imported into that country.

To learn more about Los Desconocidos, visit

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: A quilt created by Cornelia Bayley.

New Age of Education

Students taking the Reading and Writing for Career Pathways class wrote letters to the editor about their learning experiences at the Taos Education & Career Center (formerly the Adult Learning Center @ UNM-Taos). The center will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration to honor its new name and expanded mission Thursday (Dec. 1), 5-8 p.m. at the Town of Taos Civic Center, 120 Civic Plaza Drive.

Ashley Billie, a recent TECC grad, wrote this piece.

Taos residents, we are at the dawn of the new age in regards to adult education in Taos County. Located in the heart of town is a building called TECC (Taos Education & Career Center), previously named the Adult Learning Center. TECC has given me opportunities that I didn’t know were available, and being that it is a free program makes the biggest difference.

I am 24 years old, Taos Pueblo, a Native American resident born and raised in Taos. I have seen many changes in our adult education over the past 10 years, and TECC is a highly educated college readiness program providing support and educational resources to transition you from taking your High School Equivalency (HSE). Whatever point you are in your life, TECC is ready and always willing to help you find what and when you are ready to higher your education.

As a Taos resident, I found it difficult, as well as many others, to be in a “normal” school system. It just wasn’t for me.

During my sophomore year in high school, I became a mother to a beautiful baby girl. Unfortunately, my education became the least of my priorities, and high school was no longer an option. Providing financially and emotionally for my daughter became my life.

For seven years I kept procrastinating. After the birth of my son and many years of not going to school, I then became immersed in deep thought and came to the realization for my kids to have a future and possibly have great careers I would have to be a role model with just as much determination as them in making “our” dreams come true.

Enrolling in the TECC program is the best decision of my life. TECC has provided me with the support and knowledge to continue my career pathway in criminal justice and achieve my HSE.

The TECC staff has very hands-on learning techniques and in my opinion are the best. We have the same goals in common “achieving higher knowledge” and being successful at what we strive to be.

With society always trying to advance the ways we think and feel, TECC is a great program to start with. TECC is a nonprofit organization with highly dedicated teachers who hope to help as many individuals in adult education as possible.

I, as well as others, am so grateful for everything the TECC programs and staff have done for us. Thank you.

Students share their learning experiences

Students at the Taos Education and Career Center (TECC) have a lot to share about their learning experiences. And they got to do just that in their Reading and Writing for Career Pathways class, when they wrote letters to the editor as an assignment.

The Taos News published the first batch of letters in the Nov. 17 edition. Now they are available online. Here is the link: Letters in The Taos News

Another batch will be published in the Nov. 23 edition. Thanks to The Taos News for its support.

We will also be sending other letters to

As you can read, the students in this class — Nina Gonzales and I co-teach — have had varied experiences. But they feel they have found a rewarding and safe environment at TECC where they can achieve their High School Equivalency and prepare for college or tech school, if that’s their chosen path.

Perhaps you know someone who could benefit from attending TECC. Perhaps you want to get involved in its expanded mission.

TECC will celebrate its new name (it used to be call the Adult Learning Center) at a ribbon cutting and reception Thursday, Dec. 1, 5 to 8 p.m., across the street at the Town of Taos Civic Center, 120 Civic Plaza Drive. There will be music, food, and a chance to meet the staff and students.

—Joan Livingston