Alex Del Castillo gets “a lot of joy” out of teaching.
The Ocean Bay Middle School math and science teacher is a graduate of Horry County’s Early College High School and a 2020 Coastal Carolina University graduate. The 2020-2021 school year marks Del Castillo’s first year of teaching.
Del Castillo became interested in teaching while tutoring other students as a high school senior. He was a member of the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program at Early College High School and would often go to other classes and “help out.”
Del Castillo is certified to teach math and science for students in grades 5-9. He currently teaches 6th graders.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Del Castillo has had to alter his lesson plans to allow for social distancing and virtual learning.
“I haven’t been able to do a lot of labs,” he said. “I do a lot of demonstrations. I try to find ways where I can get my kids engaged.”
Recent demonstrations have included making magnetic slime, lighting a candle using smoke, and showing heat transfer by dipping a dollar bill in a solution and lighting it - “it caught on fire, but it didn’t burn,” the teacher said.
Del Castillo has a teacher Tik Tok page where he shares mini lessons and fun facts with his students. The teacher works at Ripley’s Aquarium Myrtle Beach on the weekends and during the summer, and he often shares fun facts about fish on his Tik Tok as well.
His Tik Tok username is mr.delcastillo.
“My goal is to get on ‘Ellen’ one day,” he said with a laugh.
In addition to creating a fun learning environment and making sure concepts are covered, Del Castillo’s number one focus is making sure students know they matter and are important.
“Content is important to me, but I strive for an environment where kids feel safe, welcome and loved,” he said. “When you have that, it all comes together.”
Mutual respect and treating each other with positivity is on top of the classroom rules.
“You don’t get respect if you don’t give respect,” the teacher said.
It’s ok to make mistakes, too.
“Mistakes are good. We have to make mistakes in order to grow and learn,” Del Castillo said. “We’re allowed to get a O once in a while. They can make mistakes and it’s ok.”
When he set out to become a teacher, Del Castillo never imagined graduating and starting his career in the midst of a global pandemic.
“I spent my last semester of college interning at Myrtle Beach Middle School. It was a full circle moment. I went to that school,” he said. “[COVID] kind of put a damper on it. I didn’t get to say goodbye in person. I didn’t get group photos with my kids.”
Despite the challenges, Del Castillo said he’s “making the best of it.”
“As I tell my kids, ‘It is what it is,’” he said.
The teacher has lived in Myrtle Beach since age 7. His parents were both born in Peru. His father lives in Oklahoma and his mom’s side of the family currently resides in the Grand Strand area. Del Castillo is proud of his Peruvian heritage and proud to be a first generation college graduate.
“I didn’t grow up with much,” he said of his childhood. “I’m very happy now because of everything I have achieved and had to go through in my past.”
Del Castillo thanks some of his most inspirational teachers for setting him on this path.
Ms. McCoy, Del Castillo’s freshman AVID teacher, would give students a chance to write questions to her and she would respond to them all genuinely.
“She created a classroom environment where I felt accepted,” the teacher said.
Ms. Tammy Lee, Del Castillo’s high school advisor, also had an impact on him.
“She helped me become a lot more aware of my passions,” he said.
One of those passions is sustainability.
“I earned my sustainability certificate at CCU. I was president of the recycling club and won an award from the Horry County Solid Waste Authority as a high schooler,” Del Castillo said. “I help out with the science club at Ocean Bay and am involved with our community garden.”
Del Castillo taught himself American Sign Language and started a sign language club while he was a student at CCU.
“I sign with my kids in the classroom,” he said.
The teacher is a “huge Harry Potter fan” and enjoys taking hot yoga classes each week.
“That’s my de-stressor,” he said.
Del Castillo adopted two kittens, named Ace and Ava, from the North Myrtle Beach Humane Society over the summer.
Teacher of the Month is sponsored by Sparks Toyota. Nominate your favorite teachers online at myhorrynews.com/contests.