Veva Blunt Elementary School Teacher Wins National Teaching Award

Receives $5,000 cash award and story by award-winning journalist

Washington, DC - September 1, 2019

Kindergarten had been a difficult year for Tim Ruiz, who is on the autism spectrum and suffers from epilepsy. Tim’s behavior deteriorated, and he began to dread going to school. As first grade approached, his mother, Andrea Camarena, says, “I was already thinking, ‘I’m going to have to homeschool him.”  But then they met Tim’s first grade teacher, Isabel Renteria. “Mrs. Renteria changed everything,” says Andrea.


The transformation that took place in Tim under Renteria’s care at Veva Blunt Elementary School in Visalia, California was so profound that Andrea nominated Renteria for the $5000 national Honored Award, which recognizes teachers across the country who have changed the lives of their students.  Based on Andrea’s compelling nomination essay, Renteria received the September Honored award and was profiled by award-winning NPR journalist Vanessa de la Torre. 


When Renteria first met Tim, “My first thought was he needs structure, he needs consistency. He just needs to be in my class,” she said.  Renteria gave Tim ways to feel successful at school and built systems that supported his physical and emotional needs. Renteria is known as “The Nurturer” among her colleagues; as she said, “Yes, I nurture, but I feel like I balance that with discipline and nurturing. I still expect control in my classroom. They love me for that, too. They love me for the structure.”  Renteria enlisted the entire first grade class to support Tim, saying they all learned a lot about individual differences and being part of a supportive community. Tim is now in fourth grade and continues to succeed thanks to Renteria’s interventions. “If you were to walk into the classroom now, you wouldn’t pick him out anymore,” said Natalie Garza, the school principal. “And academically, he has made so much growth …. It’s just phenomenal because we knew all along that he had it in him.”  Renteria herself sid that seeing Tim thrive among his peers brings her to tears: “It just shows that hard work pays off,” she says. And indeed, it has for both of them.  

Read the full story of Isabel Renteria and Tim Ruiz at  Honored will be celebrating Renteria and Tim the entire month of September.  

About Honored

Honored is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and to inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching. Each month, Honored shines a spotlight on a teacher who has changed the life of a single student. The Honoree receives a $5,000 cash award, and Honored partners with a world-class writer to tell their story. Honorees are selected from K-12 teachers of all subjects at public, private and charter schools across the country. Honored’s National Advisory Board includes luminaries such as the internationally best-selling author Michael Lewis, founder Charles Best, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, and FEED cofounder Lauren Bush Lauren.

For more information about Honored, visit For regular updates on Honored and our monthly Honorees, follow and like us on, and

Honored Press Contact

Brooklyn Batey