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Operation teach: Inside a New Mexico classroom with a national guard member

Las Cruces, New Mexico -- The State of New Mexico faces an unprecedented shortage of substitute teachers - forcing many schools across the state to use the national guardsmen to step into the classroom.

Specialist Mario Meraz is working with children at Highland Elementary. Meraz receives observation training as he watches teachers at the school and has done so for the past week.

"They kind of like it that someone is wearing a uniform. They're like….'oh, a soldier'," said Meraz.

Mario Meraz has been in the NM national guard for three years. This is his second mission. His first was the Covid-19 mission, where he was part of the distribution of Covid vaccines and PPE.

He had no teaching experience entering this volunteer effort with LCPS. He'll remain as a sub at highland elementary for the rest of the semester.

On any given day, the principal says her school could have from 17-to-30 educator absences in the second-largest elementary school in the district with over 800 students. Meraz says he's open to teaching any grade level at the school for the remainder of the semester.

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Tom Scott

Tom Scott is ABC-7’s news operations manager for our New Mexico mobile newsroom.


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