Making learning fun: Port Isabel math, computer teacher named District Teacher of Year

Port Isabel High School teacher Luis Rincones, at center, celebrates his achievement of winning District Teacher of the Year, along with the Point Isabel ISD superintendent and school board members. (Courtesy photo: Point Isabel ISD)

PORT ISABEL — When Luis Rincones parted ways with his career in the banking industry, he thought about what other path he could pursue.

During his time in that career, he would do presentations at local high schools about financial literacy and always enjoyed them.

He looked to his wife for inspiration and developed a passion for becoming an educator like her.

So after substituting and receiving his alternative certification, Rincones began his teaching career with Point Isabel ISD as a high school math and computer science teacher.

It’s clear Rincones’ dedication to educating students has stood out because he was recently selected to be Point Isabel ISD’s District Teacher of the Year.

“I was completely surprised to be named District Teacher of the Year,” Rincones said. “This is only my third year as a teacher so it was definitely unexpected.”

Rincones has always enjoyed playing video games and describes himself as a gamer.

“I brought that to my teaching and created an esports program,” Rincones said. “Through that, I’ve reached more students that may not speak in class.”

When Rincones mentions a game the students might be interested in, he said he sees more involvement, aside from the students that do already participate.

“There’s always several that don’t (participate) so I try to find ways to get them involved,” Rincones said. “My style is trying to get everybody to engage and I use whatever methods I can find to reach them.”

Rincones said what he enjoys most about being an educator is getting to know the students throughout the year and trying to find ways to reach them.

“I remember the first year it was basically new to me teaching at the high school level, especially the math concepts so I try to go beyond the formulas and theorems to try to get something more relatable,” he said. “Something more than just solving these equations.”

Rincones said an example of getting to be a part of students’ growth can especially be seen in computer science.

At the beginning of the year, he said the students are completely new to coding.

Then at the end of the year, they’re able to create their own apps.

“I ask them what they think because when they first started they didn’t know anything about coding and now they just created their own app,” Rincones said. “The look on their faces when they’re thinking back as far as how they started is really cool.”

Rincones said he’s excited to start getting ready for the next school year.

“I know we just left for the summer, but I’m already thinking about what we’re going to do next year,” Rincones said.

“I moved to a new room so I’m really looking forward to getting back and decorating that room to get it prepared for next year because I already have so many ideas as to what I want to do.”