Teacher Spotlight: Norman Teacher Finds Groove Despite Pandemic

Monday, August 23rd 2021, 8:27 am
By: Tevis Hillis

NORMAN, Oklahoma -

It's been a time of unknowns. But last year, Mr. Renteria found his groove and after a year of teaching himself, he’s ready to get back in the classroom.  

"We love consistency, so not being able to find that rhythm was honestly the hardest thing," said Juan Renteria, a 5th-grade teacher from Norman Public Schools.  "I have a dear friend who is an educator in Mexico City." 

His friend had been finding creative ways to teach her students in Mexico. 

With the help of Zoom, Mr. Renteria and his students took a virtual trip to Mexico City. 

"She told us about what education looks like in a pandemic in her own country, and we were able to bring that into our own classroom in Norman," said Mr. Renteria. 

Renteria teaches his students to be bridge builders getting a unique view of other cultures. 

In the Mexico City lesson, the class saw the way other places were navigating the pandemic. Then they were asked to come up with solutions of their own. 

"Many came up with apps that we could use. Many came up with a suggested list of improvements that we could make as a district," said Mr. Renteria. 

In a way, Mr. Renteria says the pandemic is to thank for his new perspective on teaching. 

And it paid off. Last year he was named the Norman Public Schools teacher of the year. 

"It may sound generic, but it made me fall in love with teaching all over again," said Mr. Renteria. 

His passion continues. But he hopes he gets to spend class in-person with students throughout this year.