FARMINGTON In a gravel lot outside of Piedra Vista High School, Jenny Baker was making sure her students understood the dangers of alcohol with the aid of area law enforcement.

With Fatal Vision goggles on their faces to simulate the effects of liquor, the freshmen attempted to walk in a straight and drive a motorized cart on a traffic-cone marked course — with the expected results.

"It was, oh my gosh, it was like I was seeing five faces at once," student Melissa Smith said. "I will never drink and drive."

Baker recently was honored by the New Mexico Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance as the Health Program of the Year Award for 2012.

"I was actually pleasantly surprised, it's a really big honor," Baker said. "It's awesome to get an award from your peers that understand what you do."

The award is presented to a health educator who contributes to the advancement of school health programs by promoting the health of children and youth, according to the organization's website.

Baker became aware she was nominated for the award after being contacted by the director of the association, requesting materials to be submitted to the awards board.

A recommendation letter from PV Principal Ann Gattis was required along with samples of student work, lessons and a brief synopsis of the heath program.

"She makes it an interactive class about the students and activities," Gattis said.


"They take part in their own learning and making it meaningful and it engages them in activities that makes the material relevant. She's a master teacher."

With the help of the Farmington Police and the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, Baker led one of two classes between two separate demonstrations of how alcohol could impair their vision.

School resource officer Kirk Jemmett lead students in portions of the field sobriety test, instructing them to walk in a straight line with their hands on their sides. Most failed to walk straight, with a number of students falling over or zig zagging, colliding into each other.

On the motorized cart obstacle course, each traffic cone lining the area was designated as one pedestrian, to simulate how easy it was to cause an incident.

"I think the main goal was to open their eyes to how to protect themselves and take care of their friends," Baker said. "This gives them a first-hand look at what it is like, this gives them a first-hand feeling of the dangers involved. If we give them a hands-on feeling, hopefully they'll be smart when presented with those opportunities."

Baker said she was told a number of specific things in her submission to the awards board grabbed their attention, including the introduction of a young adult novel into the curriculum.

She introduced "Notes from the Midnight Driver," by Jordan Sonnenblick, to her students, a young adult novel about a teen boy upset at his parents for divorcing and separating, who drinks vodka and gets involved in a motor vehicle collision.

"A lot of our focus at PV is on literacy and improving reading across the board in all classes," Baker said. "It was realistic and insightful and talks about how to deal with problems aside from drinking alcohol and those things."

Gattis is excited to see every idea that Baker brings to her office, believing she does a great job of connecting with students.

Still woozy from taking off the drunk goggles, Smith said she loved being in Baker's class.

"She is a very nice teacher," Smith said. "I love her so much, she is one of the best teachers at PV."