CNN’s website states, “Prepare to be inspired.” We already were.

    Moving Arts Española’s Roger Montoya was just named one of CNN’s 10 heroes. Making the top 10 is a huge honor and accomplishment in itself. Each of the 10 heroes receives $10,000.

    They then compete by voting to be named the CNN Hero of the Year and a $100,000 donation to their cause. Please vote for Montoya by going to our website and click on Montoya's picture or go to https://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/vote/10/#. You can vote 10 times each day for 10 days, sort of like Rio Arriba County politics.

    Montoya faces some stiff competition. The other nine contenders have also done amazing things for their communities.

    Moving Arts Española is a great program with a proven track record.  

    However, Montoya’s altruism didn't start there. It runs back to the early 2000s when he was voluntarily running an arts program in Velarde Elementary. After a few years the school’s test scores perked up. Attendance got better. Discipline issues declined. He was on to something schools discarded to save money: arts helps with core learning.

    He successfully duplicated the model throughout the Española School District and over a few years gained state funding to pay artists of all kinds to rotate through schools. Through politics and homophobia, the school Board in 2006 switched the funding to be put toward music. It wasn’t spent correctly and the school lost most of the funds.

    Montoya had enough of Española School politics and in 2008 founded Moving Arts Española. He operated out of a part of the old Prather Gymnasium until it was condemned and he moved to the organization’s current location in the old Ohkay Casino.

    He and his partner have continuously expanded and improved the original arts program. They’ve scrounged for funding and equipment donations to now boast a great movable dance floor, with room for an audience, sound booths, arts space and offices.

    In 2010 Montoya banded with teachers and administrators who wanted a different teaching model and they founded La Tierra Montesori School. The school has struggled but its Montesori style and Montoya’s continual prodding has paid off for students.

    CNN simplifies Montoya’s contribution to our community. He’s not just operating an arts program in the midst of an opioid crisis. Actually Montoya is not trying to address or solve the drug problems we suffer.

    He’s teaching children how to come out of their shells and find their inner artist. He’s bringing children of all ages along to participate in dance, song, poetry, paint or whatever their desire may be. This gives them the confidence to participate in school, reach for something more, be something they didn’t think they could be and become a contributing member of the community.

    He and his army of volunteers executed an excellent gala Nov. 2. By all accounts, it was well organized, with a good mix and flow of speeches, live auction and performances of all kinds, including students. They raised a lot of money. When Montoya is involved in a program, you can bet it will be done correctly.

    He likes to deflect the praise and recognition. It lands on volunteers and staff. But he’s the brains and brawn behind every successful project he’s led.

    We hope you’ll go to the website and vote for him. But more than that, we hope you’ll support any project he leads. None of them are about him, but helping the people who can’t help themselves. Just for that Montoya should be recognized.

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