Virginia was born and raised in northern New Mexico. She grew up in the village of Cuarteles and currently resides in Albuquerque. Virginia earned a bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s degree in at-risk youth education and counseling, both from the College of Santa Fe. She earned a Ph.D. in language, literacy, and sociocultural studies from The University of New Mexico. Her dissertation focused on teacher perceptions about diversity and the achievement gap.
Virginia has over 23 years of experience in education. She served as an elementary teacher for 6 years, a higher education administrator for 13 years and as an administrator for the NM Public Education Department for 6 years. Her higher education administrative posts include division head at Northern New Mexico Community College; director of academic and student services for the Fremont Campus of Pueblo Community College, and director of teacher education at Santa Fe Community College. During her tenure at Northern New Mexico Community College, Virginia established the first alternative teacher licensure program in the state of New Mexico and a successful teacher mentorship program through an Eisenhower Professional Development Grant. During her tenure as director of teacher education at Santa Fe Community College, Virginia also served as the director/principal investigator of the Title V: El Colegio Project, which involved establishing online higher education programs in high demand fields targeting underserved populations in New Mexico. Through this program, she was able to establish a fully online alternative teacher licensure program to address the statewide teacher shortage. Virginia also served as the Executive Director for Innovative Digital Education and Learning (IDEAL-NM), a New Mexico Public Education Department statewide eLearning program that serves P-12, higher education and state agencies. Since the program’s inception in the summer of 2008, IDEAL-NM has grown from a program of 2 online courses, 12 eTeachers, and 51 statewide enrollments to a program that offers over 126 semester-long online courses, with over 170 trained eTeachers statewide, and over 1,500 enrollments per semester. Additionally, the program expanded to support NM schools in the development and implementation of online and blended learning programs, providing the statewide learning management system as the platform. Read more about IDEAL-NM: https://vpadillavigil.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/ideal-nm-leveraging-technology-to-promote-equity-access-opportunity/.
Virginia currently serves as the center director for New Mexico Highlands University in Rio Rancho. Her areas of expertise include higher education teaching, leadership and administration; teacher education and professional development; curriculum, instruction and assessment; online teaching, learning and program development; technology integration and innovation; diversity and critical multiculturalism. Although she has served primarily in administrative positions, Virginia has always taught at the college level online and face-to-face. As a leader, she believes that it is important to stay in touch with teaching and learning at the classroom level and the experiences of teachers and students.
Virginia’s philosophy of education can be summarized as follows,
“I believe education is a human right and that everyone deserves access to a quality education. As an educator, I have focused my teaching, research, and leadership on promoting equity and access in education. I believe technology is a powerful tool that if leveraged appropriately and effectively, cannot only enhance teaching and learning, but can transform our educational system.”