Mr. Pitman Wins Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award

Lincoln Byrd

Santa Fe High science teacher Mr. Richard Pitman has won the 2020 Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award, making him one of just seven teachers in New Mexico to win this prestigious award this year.

The annual award is given to honor teachers based on their excellence in the classroom and commitment to their profession. This award has been given to New Mexico’s most outstanding teachers since 1996. Teachers can be nominated for this award by other teachers, students, administrators, or parents.

Mr. Pitman teaches all levels of biology, from regular to honors to AP, and is in his 18th year at SFHS. He says one of his main motivations for becoming a teacher was the outstanding teachers he had in high school from whom he learned a lot.

His passion for science, and in particular biology, is mainly what led him to teach this subject. “I actually enjoy science,” he said jokingly. “I have a degree in ecology and have enjoyed learning about science since I was a kid, and I wouldn’t teach it if I didn’t enjoy it.”

He also adds that chemistry and physics seem pretty static while biology is always changing, which is why he feels it is so important. “Biology affects every single part of your life,” he stated.

Another factor for Mr. Pitman’s motivation to teach is that he wanted a challenging job. He said that what he gets back from teaching is a consistent challenge every year from his students.

On the topic of the Golden Apple award, for Mr. Pitman it means “a little recognition” from others. “I put a lot of work and time into teaching, and because of [the award] more people are aware of the effort,” he explained. “Anytime you get a little recognition is a good thing.”

“I was nominated by another teacher, so it was special for me to see that others value my work,” he continued. “It’s also an opportunity to work with other teachers who are continually becoming better teachers.”

This award also entails work for its recipients. Mr. Pitman gave an overview of the requirements: “You have to commit to continue working with the Golden Apple Foundation, attend conferences, pledge to develop yourself professionally, and share that growth,” he said. “This is a pretty big commitment.”

Mr. Pitman wasn’t the only teacher in the district to be nominated. Ms. Bunker, also from SFHS, was nominated, along with Mr. Seymour from ECO, and four teachers from Capital High School.

Lastly, Mr. Pitman says that the Golden Apple Foundation is awarding him $4,000, which he’s going to put into community service. “Working with others allows you to grow and learn,” Mr. Pitman said. “That’s the challenging part of this job. I would hope some quality is being established in this thing I call a career.”