Educator Spotlight: Manny Curiel
EdTech specialist in Texas has charisma and charm that makes learning engaging and fun
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
So much about learning is first finding that desire to connect to something.
We grow only when we want to, when we feel empowered to do so and trust that whatever change is to come will make us better, stronger and happier. And, both for children and adults, it’s the relationships along the way that sustain this momentum. It’s the people who help us.
Manny Curiel is a helper for the ages. Knowing that growth is possible in all of us – no matter who we are or where we came from or what we do not yet know – Manny celebrates learning every step of the way for you. He does not settle for reluctancy or complacency or fear. Instead, he revels in the journey with dance moves, neon colors, snapping fingers and a big, big smile that captivates you so deeply, you forget that one time you thought you weren’t good enough and instead rise to the occasion because you know people like him are on your side.
“Let’s do this!” he says, when you’re already on your way.
With relatability, honesty and a disco ball inside his heart, Manny makes people feel better about who they are and excited about who they can be, and it’s because he believes in himself first, then he believes in everyone else, too.
“I enjoy making people happy,” says Manny, who first taught early elementary and works today as an EdTech specialist in Houston, Texas. “You know that excited feeling you have when you’re getting a present? I feel that way more in giving than receiving. It’s so rewarding to help someone realize they’re capable of doing something they thought they were not able to do.
“Whenever teachers tell me they’re not tech-savvy, I say, ‘No! That’s a choice you are making, so get that out of your head, and let’s get this together.’ I believe in teachers so much.”
Empathy Guides the Teaching
Manny moved from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Houston on a Sunday in 2001. He was 20 years old, could not speak any English and immediately began work as a sous chef. As soon as he transitioned into education, he knew he would take his own growth experience to empower not only his young students, but their families, too.
“I loved that I could help my community,” says Manny, who used to meet with parents at their homes, attend birthday parties and dinners and still receives texts and pictures from former families today. “When I came here, I could not even have a conversation, and that’s the story I would tell my students. I always put myself as an example and would say to them, ‘I know you can be somebody in this country, so you have to learn the language,’ and then they were successful because they had a reason why.
“You have to take the time to hear your kids and be there for them and push them – you need to get them pumped! Making a connection with them will always give you more bang for your buck, and once you do, I guarantee you, you will see that they are the most amazing people.”
He has the same hope for adults. In presenting new technology, writing a blog and updating his YouTube channel for his many districts today, Manny focuses on simplicity and relatability the same way he did with his students.
“My English is not the greatest, and I ramble a lot, but I always tell teachers, ‘My videos are not Hollywood production! We just need to convey a message, okay?’ ” he says with optimism, bravery and a charisma that stays with you. With teachers like Manny, you remember how good it feels to surprise yourself.
“It’s hard to acknowledge that there are better ways to do what you have done for so long, but I value and honor the fact that so many teachers right now are willing to step out of what they believe. I always remind them, ‘You are a good teacher, and you have got to believe that you are a good teacher! So what is it you need to get there? How can I help?’ That’s when I feel like I’m making an impact.”