By Nayeli Contreras, Contributor
The Paw Print: What prior experiences do you have when it comes to teaching?
Mr. Castro: I’ve got a lot of prior experience when it comes to teaching, if you count coaching. I coach soccer a decent amount. But teaching-wise I taught computer science for three years at Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park.
The Paw Print: What classes do you teach at Payton?
Mr. Castro: Just computer science, and since it’s growing, but hasn’t grown enough to be its own department yet, it’s part of the Math department.
The Paw Print: How do you wish to have an impact at Payton and the students here?
Mr. Castro: That’s a good question. Overall, the impact I want to have is to expose students in my class to the world of computers because I think they level the playing field for students, regardless of your socioeconomic status. So, at least for my class, I want to have students gain skills that give them an advantage. At the same time, I do not have an extremely rigorous curriculum. So, I think my class is a good way to buffer all the other rigorous classes at Walter Payton, that way you’re not always worried about an A course workload, which my class still is, but not as intense.
The Paw Print: Have you dealt with high school students in the past?
Mr. Castro: Yeah, I have. At my last school, half of my classes were middle schoolers and half were high schoolers. So, I had a good share of both.
The Paw Print: So far do you enjoy your experiences at Payton?
Mr. Castro: Yes, it’s fun and it’s been a good time. I didn’t know what to expect, but so far these last three or four weeks have been a good experience.
The Paw Print: Did you grow up here in Chicago?
Mr. Castro: I grew up in Rockford, Illinois which is about two hours west of here. I was born in Mexico and lived there for one year, then my parents moved to Rockford. I was there until I graduated high school, from there I went to Aurora, and now I’ve been in Chicago for about five years.
The Paw Print: How are schools out in the suburbs different from schools here in Chicago?
Mr. Castro: It’s a lot different, I love it here because it’s really diverse. In Rockford, there was some diversity, but not as much as there is here.
The Paw Print: Were you a computer science major?
Mr. Castro: I was actually a secondary education history major; so, I was supposed to be a social studies teacher. When I went to college, my choices were history, physical education, english, and math. So, I went for history because there wasn’t an option for computer science.
The Paw Print: What do you do in your free time?
Mr. Castro: In my free time I watch a lot of sports; I really like soccer and football. Any chance that I get, I go back to Rockford to see my family. During the school year it’s hard; I go back once a month. I’ve also refereed a couple soccer games.
The Paw Print: From a teacher perspective, what were your experiences with Covid like and how has it affected your teaching?
Mr. Castro: It didn’t affect my teaching style, but has made me feel more appreciative for being able to teach face to face. Overall experience, it hasn’t been easy but I consider myself lucky that I made it through.
The Paw Print: Last but not least, how do you hope to influence equity in your classroom?
Mr. Castro: So, in order to influence equity in my classroom, I think from the get-go about the curriculum- being able to get all kinds of students the skills that they can find helpful in the future. Knowledge about technology and such can help.