Friday, Feb. 25 will mark one year since Las Cruces Public Schools lost its leader and superintendent, Dr. Karen Trujillo. In a year’s time, LCPS has mourned her death while welcoming new leaders, two new members to the Board of Education, and a full reentry to the classroom after Trujillo navigated the entire district into remote learning.
“She was a friend and a trusted leader, but above all, she was my mentor,” said LCPS Superintendent Ralph Ramos. “I try to lead our district every day as she would have wanted – with deep respect for the families and communities that support our students.”
Ramos was named interim superintendent by the LCPS Board of Education on March 2, 2001, after an emergency meeting was called. On June 2, the board voted to retain Ramos in a permanent capacity.
Trujillo, 50, died the week before after being hit by a vehicle as she was walking with her dogs in her north Las Cruces neighborhood. During her tenure, she led LCPS through a cyberattack that crippled the district’s internet access and then spearheaded a plan to teach, feed and support students when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered classrooms.
“Karen was passionate about education,” remembered Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning at LCPS and a trusted advisor to Trujillo. “She was a tireless advocate for students. She listened to them, and she made sure that their voice was heard. Karen Trujillo was genuinely invested in the student experience, and the work we continue to do is because of her leadership.”
Shortly after her passing, Dist. 4 Board of Education member and current Vice President Teresa Tenorio made a motion to name the LCPS administration building in her honor. The motion passed unanimously, and on Sept. 25, 2021, the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Administration Complex was formally dedicated. The day marked what would have been Trujillo’s 51st birthday. Wednesday, Board President Ray Jaramillo remembered Trujillo for the legacy she left in both education and leadership.
“One of the things I live with in her honor is what Karen stood for,” said Jaramillo. “Her work was making sound decisions for the betterment of our students and our district, and that is the work I continue to do in my professional capacity and in my public service to LCPS. Just as she signed off on each email message, we work in service to the children and educators of Las Cruces.”
Trujillo is survived by her husband, Ben, their three children and her parents, Gilbert and Berna Apodaca. Together, her family has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for future educators in New Mexico. Friday, Trujillo’s husband and oldest daughter, Taralyn, will be in Albuquerque for the Educators Rising conference. The grassroots effort cultivates future educators from secondary high school and college, providing mentorship opportunities and funding sources to help the teachers of tomorrow get through college today. The Educators Rising chapter at NMSU was founded by Trujillo.
According to her husband, $206,164.97 has been raised for the NMSU endowment that bears her name. An additional $31,486.29 was raised through the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Memorial Golf Scramble that held its inaugural event last year on Sept. 24.
Flowers and a candle have been placed near the dedication plaque at the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Administration Complex at 505 S. Main Street. In her honor, district officials have asked staff to wear red – Trujillo’s favorite color – on Friday.
Holy Cross Catholic Church will also host a mass in Trujillo’s honor on Friday at 12:10 p.m.