CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — While complimenting his personality, charisma, and work ethic, Garza-Gonzalez Charter School Superintendent Dee Dee Bernal also pointed out the positive impact that third, fourth, and fifth grade math teacher Richard Luna had on the performance of his students in the classroom.
When Luna joined the school around a year ago, Bernal said lots of those students had very low scores on their STAAR tests.
The school didn't hold that testing during the pandemic-shortened spring semester. But if they did, Bernal said the test scores would have been vastly improved.
"Had we tested last (semester), we would have done much much better," she said. "(Luna) had managed to bring his students up 40, 58 percent increases. That’s how dedicated he was about his task as a teacher.”
Luna, 41, died in a traffic accident near the intersection of Holly and Weber roads Saturday nights. Juan Jesus Ruiz, 49, is accused of causing the wreck that knocked Luna's vehicle on its side and ejected his body. Police charged Ruiz with intoxication manslaughter.
Back at Garza-Gonzalez, school leaders have Luna's classroom locked-up and the lights turned off. They're offering counseling to students and their parents who are having a tough time coming to terms with Luna's death.
They do so at the same time that they start the grim task of trying to hire someone to replace him.
“It’s going to be very difficult to find someone who can fill those shoes, and I don’t believe anybody can fill those shoes," Bernal said. "But we will do our best, because I know that’s what he would want.”