Meet award-winning Pinoy teacher who is making math cool

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Aug 08 2014 12:36 PM | Updated as of Aug 08 2014 08:56 PM

JACKSON HEIGHTS, New York – Math is a tricky subject to teach. If you go by the numbers, it can be boring to say the least.

But thanks to award-winning Filipino educator Ramil Buenaventura, learning math has never been easier and fun for his 7th and 8th grade classes at the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights, New York.

He makes solving equations in Algebra as easy as singing karaoke. He also busts some Michael Jackson dance moves to teach geometry – he slides to left and slides to right, pirouettes and moonwalks to teach translation, reflection, and rotation.

Who needs a protractor when a student ballet dancer can show acute and obtuse angles?

“Kahit may konting lecture sa simula, pinapasukan ko ng a little game, para ma-enganyo sila,” said Buenaventura, “Saka itong games na ito hindi lang game for the sake of game, may application din ng math yan.”

Cellphones are not allowed in most classes in the Big Apple but the 44-year-old Pinoy teacher uses game apps to teach statistics.

Students even get extra points by playing arcade style darts or a fun game of hoops for a job well done.

Andres Aguirre, 13, said Buenaventura's method of teaching may be unconventional but it resonates well with students like him.

“Sometimes lectures do get boring, I will admit,” Aguirre said, “This is modern, a lot of use of technology, and this is meant to keep you awake and meant to help you learn.”

“He made little songs and dances that are catchy,” said 8th grade student Caitlyn De Jesus, “So for example during a test if I would forget something, I would think of the moves he did and they would just come easier, easier to remember things.”

New York City's Department of Education has recognized Buenaventura's energetic and creative approach to teaching.

The Mandaluyong City born-and-raised Pinoy teacher is among this year's 12 Big Apple awardees chosen from 3,000 nominees.

“Ang teacher dapat dibdibin ang profession, we're not just here just to impart knowledge, actually minsan nga natuto pa tayo sa kanila eh,” said Buenaventura.

The award came with a fellowship grant that would allow him to continue making an impact inside and outside of his classroom.

“The good thing is I will be part of the voice of teachers here in New York,” he said. “Kakausapin namin ang lawmakers, yung mga union leaders to talk about policies that will help improve the teachers teaching and learning development.”

Buenaventura came to the US in 2003 and found his American Dream in teaching. Today, he says, he is teaching to inspire his students to find theirs.

“Parang binatukan ka ni Lord,” Buenaventura said. “Ituloy mo pa yang ginagawa mo huwag kang mapagod, eventually pala nakaka-inspire ng ibang tao.”

For his inspiring life story that has changed the lives of his students, Buenaventura was recently nominated for another recognition – the Hometown Heroes in Education Award.

“Although it's just a nomination, feeling ko nanalo na ako,” he said, “Parang bonus na lang ito, I didn't expect it.”

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