With everything that's changed at Eastwood this past year, there's been a newfound sense of urgency to cling to what history and legacy is left. In this environment of nostalgia, some of the new additions have gone unnoticed and underappreciated, in spite of the additional vibrancy and enthusiasm they bring to campus. Elaine Renteria, a first year Algebra II and Advanced Quantitative Reasoning teacher, is one such addition.
As an Eastwood alumni herself, Renteria said that she is glad to have returned to Eastwood as a teacher, though it sometimes feels like she never left.
"It's been interesting being on the other side of things," Renteria said. "It's nice to return to the same atmosphere that Eastwood has. I feel like I've never left because I've always helped Ms. Dwyer with her elementary program. It's nice to be involved in the Eastwood community."
As a student at Eastwood, Renteria had a reputation for being dedicated and studious. Nicole O’Leary, who taught Renteria Pre-AP Physics, said that she was a student who always came to class excited to learn.
"She was very hard working, very meticulous," O’Leary said. "She was very detail-oriented and organized, and she always made very good grades."
Head of the math department, Robert Fierro said that he chose to hire Renteria over other candidates partially because of her standing as a student.
"She was a good student," Fierro said. "She did what she was supposed to do, and that was a large part of why I wanted to hire her."
Algebra II teacher Martin Jacquez has worked very closely with Renteria, and is a fairly new teacher himself, having started only last year. Jacquez said that he's always made himself available to help her out, and that they've become good partners while working on new ideas together.
"I'm so fresh as a new teacher, I try and help her out as much as I can," Jacquez said. "I work very closely with her, and I think we complement each other really well. We exchange ideas, and make each other better."
As with every new job, Renteria has faced her share of challenges during her first year teaching. Renteria said that it was at times difficult to teach AQR, because she lacked familiarity with the subject, and that floating initially made things more difficult.
"AQR is a new subject to me," Renteria said. "It was interesting to have to learn how to apply things in a different way. Floating was definitely a challenge at first, but I eventually got used to it."
Jacquez said that AQR is a very hard subject to teach, but that he thinks Renteria has done a fantastic job, and expanded the program brilliantly.
"AQR is a challenge but she's done really well," Jacquez said. "She's explored different avenues of explanation. She's so intelligent, so she explores different methods of engaging students, and she keeps them interested."
Renteria will also be assuming new responsibilities in the coming years. As of next year, she will be teaching the Concepts of Engineering and Technology, the introductory course to Eastwood's STEM program. Renteria said that she's excited to be able to apply her own engineering skills, and to work in a more hands-on environment.
"I'm looking forward to doing a lot of experiments because I think being hands on is very important," Renteria said. "I want to introduce a lot of technology, and implement what I learned in my engineering classes."
STEM teacher Sal Contreras said that he's glad to have Renteria on board, and that, having known her for some time, he's looking forward to the ideas and new perspective she'll bring to the program.
"I think she's going to be a great addition to the STEM program," Contreras said. "I've known her for a few years, we were actually pursuing our engineering degree at the same time. I think she can bring a lot of new and fresh ideas to the table that the freshman are really going to enjoy."
Senior Alexis Carrillo, who has Renteria's class for AQR, said that she is a wonderful teacher, who is always willing to go the extra mile for her students.
"Out of all my years of school, Ms. Renteria is one of the best math teachers I've ever had," Carrillo said. "She takes time in her lessons, thoroughly explains them, and helps out her students as much as she can. She's very kind, and pushes her students, because she knows the great work that we are capable of. Ms. Renteria is an amazing teacher, and I'm grateful to have had her as my teacher."
Senior Cierra Horie, who also has Renteria for AQR, said that she's immensely thankful to have had Renteria as her teacher.
"Ms. Renteria is absolutely amazing at her job," Horie said. "She wants to see her students succeed, and tries her best to help her students. The amazing thing about Ms. Renteria is that she is closer to our age so she understands what we are going through. Ms. Renteria is really kind and sweet, and has a heart of gold."
Despite the challenges, Renteria said that she has greatly enjoyed becoming a teacher, and that she is very invested in the success of her students.
"I think all the kids have been really great," Renteria said. "It's been so fun seeing everyone's personality's shine through in each class. That's why I became a teacher, because I enjoy seeing students grow throughout the year. I like helping them with something they thought they couldn't do, and making it possible for them to achieve."