Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez
2017 Distinguished Young Alumnus

Christopher Gutierrez is the youngest superintendent in the history of the 1,400 student West Las Vegas School District in New Mexico.

Gutierrez, 37, earned his M.A. in educational leadership from Highlands in 2013 and a B.A. in general science for secondary teachers in 2005.

The West Las Vegas School Board voted unanimously in September 2016 to name Gutierrez superintendent after he first served as interim superintendent.

“Christopher is a perfect example of how education empowers you to serve your community,” said Ane Romero, a member of the distinguished alumni selection committee who was named a Highlands distinguished young alumna in 2011. “He’s a rising proactive leader in education administration who is doing a great job as superintendent. Christopher is also an inspirational role model for youth and others.”

Gutierrez said educators have the privilege of touching the future through their work with students.

“When I went into education, I wanted to pass on the knowledge I had learned to help students be successful,” Gutierrez said. “I feel that as a superintendent, I can do that at a higher level.”

Gutierrez said the biggest challenge in his first year as superintendent was the state budget cuts school districts throughout New Mexico faced.

“We figured out a way to retain all our employees and we kept every school door open,” Gutierrez said.

The Las Vegas, New Mexico native gained his first administrative experience as West Las Vegas Middle School principal from 2014 – 2016.

“Working at the middle school gave me the opportunity to prove myself as an administrator. After being a classroom teacher, I learned the other side of the school environment. I was fortunate to manage 24 great, hard working staff members,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said he learned how to be a transformational leader during his master’s degree program in educational leadership at Highlands.

“My graduate coursework also prepared me to better understand education laws, how to build school budgets, and how to develop cohesiveness with teachers in the building. My professors were excellent,” Gutierrez said.

In 2017, Gutierrez initiated a coalition of education administrators and other leaders in Las Vegas with the goal of advancing local education opportunities for kindergarten through college students. He is also active in organizations such at the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders, Regional Education Cooperative #4, Las Vegas Truancy Task Force, and San Miguel County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Gutierrez began his education career in 2005 at West Las Vegas Family Partnership, where he was the only science teacher for seventh – 12th-graders and taught math to ninth – 12th– graders.

In 2008, he earned statewide recognition when his eighth-grade science students had the highest increase in test scores in the state on the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment.

“The biggest highlight for me at Family Partnership was our success with graduating students that were struggling in the education system,” Gutierrez said.

Every semester, Gutierrez takes education courses at Highlands, ranging from special education to teaching reading.

“As an education administrator, it’s important to continually advance my knowledge,” Gutierrez said.