Smooth transition: Alvord math teacher honored after moving from elementary to high school

Published Saturday, March 2, 2019
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Formula for Success

FORMULA FOR SUCCESS – Shelly Rangel was recently honored by the Jack Harvey Academy of Exemplary Teachers. She teaches upper level math at Alvord High School. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

On a shelf in Shelly Rangel’s classroom, pictures of past fifth-grade classes to which she taught math are lined up.

Many of those students are once again back in her classroom for Algebra II and Pre-Calculus. Rangel is in her second year at Alvord High School teaching the upper-level math courses after spending 18 at Alvord Elementary.

“I get to have some of the same students. Some have really matured, and some still have basically the same personality,” Rangel said. “I do like it. Obviously, the curriculum is more challenging at the high school.”

In her 20th year at Alvord ISD, Rangel was chosen as the district’s Jack Harvey Academy of Exemplary Teachers selection, an award program through Weatherford College.

An excerpt from the nomination letter written by Alvord High School Principal Aaron Tefertiller read: “Mrs. Shelly Rangel is an exemplary teacher because she is a model in the classroom. Mrs. Rangel has been in our district for 20 years, the last two of which have been spent at our high school. Her joy and ability to get students to perform in the classroom make her the ideal choice for this award.”

The longtime educator was surprised by the honor in her second year at the campus.

“It was nice to be recognized. As I told our assistant principal, I just come to work and do the best job I can each day,” Rangel said.

A Bridgeport native, Rangel went to school at Angelo State and Tarleton.

She always enjoyed math and helping people, so combining the two led her into teaching.

“I always liked math in school,” Rangel said. “I enjoy helping people, and I needed a profession where I could talk to people. I knew I couldn’t do accounting or finance where I had to be in an office all day by yourself.”

Rangel started her career at Irion County in Mertzon west of San Angelo, teaching one year there before coming to Alvord. At Alvord, she spent the past 16 years in the same classroom, teaching math to elementary students.

With her children attending school in Alvord, she elected to stay in the district. But with her son, the youngest, in high school two years ago, she decided to make the move to the high school.

“I received my secondary education certification a long time ago and just hadn’t used it. I mentioned to the principal if they had an opening and if I was the best option, I’d like to move,” Rangel said.

She was quickly hired and embraced the change after some early anxiety.

“I was nervous or anxious when they originally told me that I was going to teach Pre-Cal. Originally I said I’m really comfortable with Algebra and Geometry,” Rangel recalled. “A couple of weeks later, they say, ‘You’re going to teach Algebra II and Pre-Cal.’ I said, ‘OK. Can I have some books?'”

To Tefertiller, Rangel has made the uncommon transition from teaching at the elementary to the high school seamlessly.

“Teachers seem to be born to be elementary, middle school or high school teachers. Each are so different,” Tefertiller said. “You can usually tell in a group which is which. Few transcend and go from elementary to the high school. She has a command of a classroom and students that you don’t see where she can teach at any level.”

No matter the grade level she’s teaching, Rangel relies on the same basics.

“It’s about building relationships with the kids and the parents,” she said. “I loved fifth grade and that was real concrete and I felt like I had really good lessons. It’s a little more abstract here, but I do love this age group because they are older and you can talk to them more like adults.”

Even some of the subject matter has translated.

“Some of the things I taught them in fifth grade, like the common denominator and we try to do it in pre-Cal, I tell them, ‘it’s the same thing.'” Rangel said. “The other day I went back to my fifth-grade voice and reminded them this is how we get the common denominator.”

Along with teaching her classes, she helps with the student council and coaches the school’s math team.

“She’s not just up here teaching. She finds other ways to help out,” Tefertiller said. “She’s always smiling and helping. What makes her a master teacher is her demeanor that kids love.”

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