By: Héctor L. Rosario Pacheco
Héctor Rosario Rivera or as his students call him, Mr. Rosario, is well known at the Sor Isolina Middle School in Ponce for his supportive and strict way of teaching.
“I’ve always tried to maintain order in the classroom and teach the students what they need to learn in an easy way for them so they understand better and don’t get frustrated.” said Mr. Rosario.
Mr. Rosario is a large man, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with grayish hair, brown eyes and a strong voice. He always comes to class in jeans, an elegant shirt and black shoes. In the classroom and in daily conversations he comes across as polite, well mannered, strict, serious and intellectual.
Observing him teach reveals his ability to balance his strict personality and supportive attitude. When starting a topic the math problems Mr. Rosario shows the students are the simplest of the lesson he is giving. That way the students can learn the basics and solve problems of higher difficulty. He also shows them if there are simpler ways to solve a problem or if there’s a trick to it which will help to solve it.
“You won’t find another teacher as dedicated and as supportive to his students as Mr. Rosario. He is one of the best teachers Sor Isolina has to offer.” said Rebeca Madera, a special education teacher at the school.
To encourage his students he reviews the topic that the students show most difficulty understanding so they have a second chance to learn how to solve them. Before evaluating them he clears any doubts the students might have so they can be as prepared as they can.
Héctor Rosario Rivera grew up in “La Playa de Ponce”. His father, Vicente Rosario Rivera was a worker at the Ponce Cement Factory and his mother, Gloria Rivera Ortíz was a housewife. When he was old enough he went to Lucy Grillasca Elementary School, then Santiago González Middle School and Dr. Alfredo Aguayo High School. Throughout his school life he saw how his friends at school struggled at math while he was good at it so he decided to be an accountant.
After high school he studied at the University of Puerto Rico- Ponce and finished his bachelor’s degree in accounting at the Catholic University in Ponce. He graduated in five years but ran out of luck after that.
“I spent two years looking for a job after graduating from college and one day I went to a job interview where they were looking for a math teacher and got selected. Afterwards I worked two years as a teacher and was unemployed again.” said Mr. Rosario.
After Mr. Rosario worked for two years as a math teacher he was unemployed for two more years. Then he got a job offer to be a teacher again and studied at night to get a master’s degree.
“When I worked as a math teacher for those first two years I realized that this was my calling, I wanted to teach math, the class that many of my childhood friends had trouble with. I now had the chance to help the future generation with their learning.” said Mr. Rosario.
He then worked as a teacher for 26 years in nine different schools. He worked in schools in the country and city part of Ponce. He has given classes in all types of classrooms, filled with different students and he has always been professional about his work.
“I have always put order, respect and discipline in my classroom. But I have also been supportive of my students and have motivated them to overcome any obstacle they come by.” said Mr. Rosario.
Throughout the years he has met and taught math to different students. Most of his students know him as a respectful understanding and dedicated person. He has had different relationships with his students but these relationships have changed with time and the students don’t see teachers the same way like in the past.
“At the beginning of my career the students I was considered a maximum authority figure in the classroom and a person who should be respected. Now this has changed, the students influenced by the change in values in society have lost respect towards the teachers of this country.” said Mr. Rosario.
“Mr. Rosario always tries to be the best teacher he can for his students. Even though students don’t respect teachers like in the past, he is very passionate about teaching and does everything in his power to have a good relationship with his students and get along.” said Carmen Alicea, an English teacher of the school.
Clearly since the relationship between teacher and student is difficult right now the learning process is affected. Each year students pass a grade without learning basic abilities that they should know.
“Students show difficulty in math class since the class is continuous, what you learn in eight grade you will use in ninth grade; if if the students don’t know the material it will affect their grades and they will not learn what they are required to learn.” said Mr. Rosario.
To keep the learning process stable it’s required to do more than pay attention in class. Students don’t keep everything they hear in class, they mostly forget what they were taught by the end of the day.
“For my students to learn what I teach them in class, I use different resources like examples on the chalkboard, projectors, and photocopies of math problems. I also give them homework for them to practice.” said Mr. Rosario.
Even though using all of these resources help the students learn, sometimes they need a little extra help. This occurs a lot when homework is given to them or they are taking an exam and are under pressure.
“When evaluating the students, I see their exams before they give it back and tell them to check some of the problems that I see that are wrong so they think what they did wrong and learn from their mistakes.” said Mr. Rosario.
Math is one of the most difficult classes for the students, especially because of the complexity of the class. Not all students put their efforts into learning math, which makes it difficult for the teacher when the student tries to learn or take an exam.
Mr. Rosario gives class, to approximately 30 students. Most of them do well in class but there are always a few who fail.
“About 70 percent of the students pass my class because they put effort into learning. The other 30 percent didn’t care for the class and didn’t pay attention so they failed.” said Mr. Rosario.
This saddens Mr. Rosario because his goal as a teacher is to see his students surpass themselves.
“I always do my best to help my students because when a student fails it feels like I have failed as well.” said Mr. Rosario.