ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Teacher Christopher Ortiz has found a way to connect with his students with a mix of comics, Youtube and science labs. It's what makes him one of the best teachers in the state.
"In the Navy I had some experiences where I was able to volunteer at schools and I just really loved that experience," he said.
Christopher Ortiz knew teaching was his calling when he got out of the Navy. The New Mexico native has been teaching at Ernie Pyle Middle School in Albuquerque for eight years.
"I love how students come to me in sixth grade with such energy and drive for learning. It's just amazing," he said.
He says middle school is a natural fit for him.
"I think I really understand pre-teens, that's why I love sixth grade. I understand they love comics, Youtube and they love science labs, so I'm able to model my lessons on those three ideas," Ortiz said.
Ortiz likes to make learning fun.
"I try to model real world experiences for them. For example, in our last unit with weather, they had to play a role of a newscaster. They were standing in front of a green screen explaining weather, and it's just amazing to see sixth graders understanding different high pressure systems and low pressure systems," he said.
Ortiz says being a teacher is very rewarding.
"Having students waiting for you in the morning and joining you for lunch," he explained.
Ortiz was nominated for a Golden Apple because his school says he raises the bar for student achievement.
"Just being able to represent all the great teachers who have had an impact on my life," Ortiz said.
If you know an outstanding elementary school teacher, the Golden Apple Foundation is accepting nominations through April 30.
Golden Apple 2018.