By Lou McCall
The Questa Independent School District welcomes their new superintendent: Mr. John Maldonado. QISD Board President Jose Lovato says this is good news: “The school board and staff are excited. Mr. Maldonado is young and energetic.” His enthusiasm is infectious, just the kind of infection we need after the COVI-19 era. Maldonado recently signed a two-year contract and has enough energy and ideas for a ten-year plan.
Maldonado says the move to Questa has been a great transition. He is impressed with the QISD facilities and staff, a great team. He acknowledges that there is work to do and room for growth, starting from “exactly where you are, with what you have, focusing on the positive.” Sure, he says, we have all had black eyes, but we can’t be stuck in the past. “Baby steps,” says Maldonado, “short-term goals lead to bigger things.”
His big vision, district-wide, is unity. A big piece of that is communication, which can overcome some of the district’s conflicts. The end goal of communication is understanding, he says.
A first step toward unification is what Maldonado calls a “meet and greet.” He says parents, teachers, students, and staff need to get together. On Monday, August 2, at 5:30 pm, the district will host a Back-to-School Celebration at the Questa High School cafeteria. There will be food, door prizes, and booths for students to learn about opportunities for involvement in sports, clubs, and other activities. Musical entertainment will be provided by local musician Chris Arellano.
Maldonado says: if you want positive results, focus on the positive. What is Questa doing right? For one thing, Questa has a 98% graduation rate, almost unheard of in New Mexico. That is something to celebrate! Maldonado believes you have to be data-driven. Where are students succeeding? And where they are not, what can be done?
Thinking positive means praising the good things. What if parents got a call from the principal, not when Junior got in trouble, but when he did something great? Maldonado believes in letting the parents know when students succeed, so the whole family can feel proud. This empowers the students and builds confidence.
Maldonado was born in Santa Fe. His family moved to Carlsbad when he was two years old. He graduated from Carlsbad High School. When he was young, athletics was what kept him in school. He received a full scholarship in cross country track to New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM. After graduation, he stayed in Las Vegas and joined the faculty of Robertson High School, where he coached. He is still a fan of athletics and runs two to three miles every day. He has invited the track team to run with him, and all are welcome!
Maldonado has come to us from the Mora school district. During his five years there, he was principal, special education director, bilingual director, pre-K director, and of course, track coach. He stresses the importance of the bilingual program and preserving the cultural heritage of all students.
He is excited to get to know Questa—he appreciates its community pride, collaboration, and respect for history and tradition. “We can all accomplish so much together,” he says. He hopes to expand vo-tech options, which currently include culinary arts and the welding lab at Questa High School. Learning a trade is a great choice—not everyone is destined for college. He would like students to learn traditional skills such as gardening, and believes that greenhouses can be part of the science curriculum.
Maldonado would like to see student journalists working with The Questa Del Rio News. “Students need effective writing skills. Statewide, less than 5% of students are proficient at writing. Clear, concise technique and good punctuation are necessary.” He hopes that students will write about the school experience, events, art, awards, and all the unrecognized talent that we have in our schools.
The Questa School District is on the rise! Mr. Maldonado was called to service and the time is right for our students and our schools to move ahead. Please join us in welcoming our new superintendent to our community. School Board meetings are on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, at 6 pm (currently on Zoom). See our calendar on page 30 or call the district office at (575) 586-0421 for more information.