When Catarino Rodriguez became a teacher it wasn’t for rewards or acknowledgement, he became a teacher because a teacher in his childhood gave him the world.

He has been a teacher for 13 years; eight years at Alice Independent School District and five at San Diego ISD. Everyday Rodriguez wakes up ready to make an impact in the world for those students who are shy, quiet and often overlooked.

“I nominate Catarino Rodriguez, on behalf of the San Diego Destination Imagination Destination Team (DI) parents. Mr. R goes above and beyond not only in the classroom, but in the extracurricular activities. He brought the (DI) program to the district and each year it flourishes,” said parents Angelica Ramirez. “The students who participate find themselves taking educational chances. He also provides a sense of belonging to some students who at times feel as if they are weird or left out. Because of him the students have excelled past their own expectations of themselves.”

On Friday, Rodriguez, a sixth grade math teacher at Bernarda Jaime Junior High in San Diego was honored as the May Amazing Teacher by Alice Echo News Journal and Bowden Ford of Alice.

Rodriguez is also the sponsor for several DI teams. Destination Imagination program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students’ creativity, courage and curiosity through open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), fine arts and service learning. Participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process.

“I became a teacher because a teacher took a chance on me. I was considered a loner until this one teacher encouraged me to be on the Varsity Choir team,” Rodriguez said. “He opened up the world to me with one opportunity. I hope to make the same impact in the lives of my students like he did in mine.”

Rodriguez knows that he makes an impact as he watches those shy students come out of their shells and branch out into other school activities. He’s watched the shy child turn into the cross country, track, basketball athlete or join the robotics team.

“I’m honored,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t do it for the recognition. I am always taken back with things like this when I do get them. Things can’t be done without the kids; I didn’t get this without them. Everything I do is about the betterment and the future of my students.

For the last nine months the AENJ and Bowden Ford of Alice have awarded nine local teachers with the Amazing Teacher of the Month. Congratulations to all the teachers for making an impact on the lives of students everywhere.