While making learning relevant and fun for his Bear Creek High students, Jose Martinez is also helping them become informed and effective global citizens who appreciate the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democracy. In his classes, which include civics, economics, honors American government and honors world geography, Martinez encourages complex thinking and creative problem solving that motivate students to work harder and excel. He uses pop-culture references, current events and technology to make subjects accessible; in economics, for example, illustrating a lesson on supply and demand with a discussion of the economics of dating. An advocate of financial literacy, he also teaches prudent money management.
Martinez, who is fluent in Spanish, is credited with increasing literacy at Bear Creek through his emphasis on reading and writing. His honors world geography students are well prepared for Advanced Placement social studies courses. His gift for connecting with students extends to those at risk. In his study-hall class, Martinez has turned around young lives with one-on-one guidance. After he team-taught an economics class for at-risk seniors, every one of the students graduated.
Hailing from a family of educators, Martinez has been teaching for just six years while keeping a daunting pace of activities and involvement. Nicknamed the “Pied Piper,” he coaches the junior varsity boys’ tennis team and advises the student senate, which runs homecoming, the prom, rallies, student government and assemblies. Backed by his technological expertise, the students create videos on such subjects as how to succeed academically and be a good friend; there’s even one on the importance of saying the Pledge of Allegiance daily. To further his dream of global understanding, Martinez also organizes student “home stays” in Japan. He acts as DJ for student gatherings, church events and birthday parties — all at no charge, supporting a safe and drug-free social avenue for students and their families.
Colleagues consider Martinez a go-to guy. In addition to being social studies co-chair, he’s a department manager, addressing the needs of 14 other teachers, ordering and organizing supplies and textbooks. He has supervised a student teacher and serves on the school’s Hispanic task force. He recently piloted a new district economics curriculum and data management system. In his young career, Jose Martinez has proved to be an exceptional educator, innovator and human being.