We are pleased to offer our students an education in a fine building and a safe environment, surrounded by other small businesses, agricultural fields, and mountains, topped off with beautiful, clear skies that light up spectacularly at dawn and dusk. The Preston building, as we know it, has been rented to us from 2012 onward by Preston Wisconsin LP, founded by our friendly and respected landlords, Tinsley and Anita Preston from Northbrook, Illinois. They support our use of the building and the way that we enhance it with books, art, student work, practical and attractive furnishings, and efficient workspaces. The building was built in 2008 and received an award for adhering to traditional architecture. It began as a fine art gallery. When the gallery closed in 2012, we were there in a minute (well, a day) to negotiate renting it. Prior to that, we were in cozy space on the Downtown Mall rented from David Blanchard’s engineering firm. We outgrew the space and the mall simultaneously changed from pedestrian to vehicular traffic, so it was a good time to move to the Preston building.
Our students and their teachers have comfortable, well-appointed classrooms lined with books, art, and, variously, a computer cluster (now generally supplanted by 15 Chromebooks for their universal file access for students), whiteboards and blackboards, large computer monitors for interactive learning, couches and rest spots, and projection facilities. Our big hallway is lined with over 3,000 books for all ages and interests, where students browse for books to read in their reading periods or for their classwork. Our storage room holds another 4,000 books. We also have a networked weather station with several advanced sensors (and a standalone monitor for sky radiative temperature). For recess and physical education, our students enjoy a courtyard for running, small-scale soccer, climbing on a dome and small playhouses, and, at times, archery. On the parking lot there’s more space; it’s also marked for 3 overlapping tennis courts for two age groups. Students get frequent breaks, as two recess periods and PE, to stay fresh.
Our students are safe and feel secure. We’re in full compliance with all fire codes, for hallways, doors, signage, wall coverings, availability of fire extinguishers, a comprehensive monitored alarm system, and regularity of fire drills. For unfortunate incidents – of which we have had none – we are fully insured. Our students also feel safe with each other. We know all the students, they know each other and all of us as teachers and administrators. Conflicts are resolved by a classic technique developed by the Quakers, eye-to-eye resolution. Our policies, shown on a separate page, cover all the issues of safety and health, from weapons to drugs to medical care to behavior. Our parents know each other, from informal encounters as they drop off and pick up their children (an advantage of not having school buses!) to regular LCA community meetings and events. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (and, we anticipate, post-pandemic) we have had student performances at the end of every semester, attended by all families, often as extended families, and friends of the LCA. We have picnics and off-site events.
Our students come from many different ethnicities, creeds, and socioeconomic groups. They learn to respect all those differences and enjoy the diversity. In national origins alone, our students and their parents over 12 years represent the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Sudan, Egypt, Ghana, the Congo, Kurdistan, Tibet, Nepal, India, Spain, Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq, Russia, China, England, Germany, Tunisia, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Native America.
Our students see more than the school. They go on field trips – locally to the adjacent agricultural fields, to NMSU, to the local museums, and farther afield (restarting post-pandemic, anticipated in Fall 2021), including Three Rivers Petroglyphs, Carlsbad Caverns, and the museums of Albuquerque. We assure their safety by having parental permission slips and by requiring all drivers to have provided us with their driving record, even if they are only driving their own child or children. Stories and images of field trips are found on our Events page.
Our teachers are experts in their fields, be these early childhood education, science, English, languages, and more. As a private school, we adhere to our own high standards, requiring not certificates (though several teachers have these) but expertise in their discipline and a passion to impart this to our students. Our science teachers hold advanced degrees in fields from English and Chinese to the hard sciences. Our teachers are here for the important work of education, not just the pay, though we pay at levels similar to other high-academic private schools. They work on annual contracts with equal pay and without seniority; we’re all equal partners. Our committed teachers have started after-school clubs on their own initiative as volunteers.
Our parents are involved. They volunteer for tasks ranging from keeping our many resources in order (books, other teaching equipment and supplies), helping on field trips, engaging students during midday faculty meetings, and aiding in fundraising.
We have community support. The Town of Mesilla has readily renewed our special-use permit, which is required of any school. Beyond our LCA families we receive donations of funds, goods, and time from friends of the LCA. The Bulletin, the Sun-News, and the NPR station, KRWG, readily help us with publicity, as does the Green Chamber of Commerce, of which we are long-time members. El Paso Electric has given us awards every year for our scholarship program.
We are involved in the community. Our students have done posters and demonstrations for global issues; they have done performances for cultural events. Board chair and teacher Vince Gutschick has done science outreach on KTAL-LP-FM (2018-19), KRWG-FM (2018 – date), and lcaoutreach.org.
We’re proud of our record in education – academic, social, and emotional – for the students who’ve been put in our care over these years. We started in August, 2009, with 13 children of trusting parents (whom we gave so much information and assurance!) in grades K-4. Now we offer early K through grade 8. Our vision is to grow to EK-12. Watch this site!