The Last Word: DISD’s Omar Cortez on His Pleasant Grove School’s Robotics Program

“We wanted robots, and we got robots—one for every three students in my classroom.”

Omar Cortez
Technology Teacher
School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove.
.…on teaching robotics and leading robotics teams for middle and elementary school students.

Here's "who said what" in Dallas Innovates Every Day.Cortez teaches robotics to every sixth-grade student at his school, and also helps coach 40 students in five teams in middle and elementary school, along with teachers and coaches Julian Beltran, Brittney Fletcher, and Alba Ramirez.

“The interest in robotics at our campus has grown miraculously,” Cortez said in a DISD news post. “It’s been a dream, with all the support that I’ve ever wanted from Dallas ISD. The kids love it, and I love it. It’s been a blast.”

Along with teaching students to build and program robots, Cortez helps them develop leadership and public speaking skills, and has seen them gain confidence and break out of their shells.

“I’ve had teachers and my principal tell me, ‘When this student came in, he was introverted, he was a little bit nervous. Now he’s active in class. He’s holding conversations, and he’s participating in different ways,’” Cortez said in the post. “To see that come full circle, to see him grow and become this leader, has been amazing.”

Cortez’ work has earned him “distinguished teacher” level in Dallas ISD, partly for making learning fun with competitions like robot soccer, where students can earn prizes like gummy bears.

“I would challenge other teachers to have fun and try to bring challenges into the classroom,” Cortez said. “Once I started doing that and bringing my own twists in, that led to my greatest successes, not only for my distinction to be a distinguished teacher, but also with the students, because now, I have students who are engaged and who are wanting to do this.”

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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