GREENFIELD — Davi Quintero of Mary Chapa Academy has been named to Curriculum Associates’ 2021 Class of Extraordinary Educators.
The annual program celebrates teachers from around the country, this year recognizing 44 teachers from 26 states and Washington, D.C., for their use of i-Ready, illustrating growth in assessments and demonstrating innovation in practices toward student achievement.
“I’m truly honored to receive that award and that nomination,” Quintero said. “There’s a lot of people in the district that are doing the same thing I am.”
Quintero said an essential part of education is genuinely caring about the students, something he has learned in his 25 years as an educator.
“I tell them, I wake up in the morning and I can be feeling great or a little bit grumpy, but when I turn my screen on and see your faces, that right there just makes my day,” he said.
That connection is important because some students may come in dealing with issues that distract them from focusing on learning.
“He takes that time to goal-set with his students,” said Tauvia Harrigan, principal at Mary Chapa Academy. “You can’t just give a test to them and say ‘go take it.’ They have to understand ‘why am I taking this?’ and ‘what is my goal?’ Mr. Quintero does that very well.”
Harrigan added, “When you get kids to realize this is my education, this is my learning, this is my goal, you’re going to see them engaged much better.”
Quintero credited the district as a whole with providing an educational environment that works, as well as school counselors with being able to help students deal not only with changes to learning, but their emotional and physical issues to help them learn.
“These kids, some of them were going through things before, and now with the pandemic, they’re really going through stuff,” he said. “… You have to be really gentle and very soft and sweet with these kids, and really mean it because they can tell if you don’t.”
As for i-Ready, Quintero said the educational software is “an incredible tool” with its individualized nature. In it, each student takes an assessment where their grade level is evaluated and individualized lessons are assigned to them based on their assessments.
Quintero monitors the student performance and finds where students are falling behind. If he notices problems or areas where many students have an issue, he can create a class lesson to build their skills as a form of educational intervention.
“i-Ready is intensive, but you have to be paying attention to what’s going on to catch it in time,” said Quintero, noting that he uses it not only as an intervention tool, but also as a scaffolding tool to guide learning at the level of his students.
In addition to the software intervention, Quintero said Zoom has helped with the breakout room feature to get students help from counselors immediately so their particular need for help can be addressed even during a lesson.
One of the largest lessons Quintero said he has taught to students is that it is OK to fail and learn from failure.
“When I grew up, my parents were, ‘you can’t fail,’ and that put a load of pressure and sometimes I did fail,” Quintero said. “I see these kids have issues they’re going through that I couldn’t ever have imagined.”
Quintero tries to encourage his students with positivity, sometimes telling them what he sees as possible in their future, including the ability to become the next U.S. president.
“At end of the day, I remind them how amazing they are, how wonderful they are and appreciate their attendance,” he said. “Every one of them is important.”
Putting himself into the lessons and showing genuine care is what Quintero said his underlying strategies were with teaching.
“If you have that much care in what you’re doing, you should be a teacher,” he said. “It’s not about the money or the time off, it’s about the difference I can make in my students’ lives.”