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Odessa teachers featured in Netflix podcast 'Because I watched'

Last Spring, 3 different classrooms were transformed into 3 different scenes from the popular Netflix show, 'Stranger Things'- last week they were recognized.

ODESSA, Texas — 'Because I Watched' is a podcast produced by Netflix that shares stories of people whose lives have been touched by their shows. 

Three local 5th grade teachers from San Jacinto Elementary in Odessa were actually recognized by the creators last week when a new episode of the podcast was released. 

The teachers were recognized for their creative twist on teaching in the classroom. 

Last Spring, three different classrooms were transformed into 3 different scenes from the popular Netflix show, 'Stranger Things'. 

"We do transformations a couple times a year and it's a classroom transformation so we transform the classroom, the content and even our self just to make it more engaging for the kids," said Christine Carillo, a fifth-grade math teacher at San Jacinto Elementary.

The teachers engage with the kids in a creative way making them excited for school and preparing them for STAAR testing. 

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"So it's like they're in a whole different place, but they're still learning the same content, but we tie it all together so it kind of gets kids motivated it gets us motivated and kind of gets everything a spark from the mundane paper-pencil every day," said Carillo. 

Their testing scores show the classroom transformations work when lessons are integrated with the content, and that's what caught the attention of a producer of the Netflix podcast.

The host of the podcast Cara Buono, a star from 'Stranger Things' said in the podcast, "these teachers weren't just fighting for their students, they were fighting for themselves so naturally, they used the finest educational tool they could think of, Stranger Things." 

Carillo and the teachers got to Skype interview with Buono this past summer as they prepared for the podcast episode. 

"Netflix was amazed by it, they said they were doing a podcast how their shows have changed have changed people's lives in any way shape or form and they were really impressed with us because they never thought that it would tie into education," said Carillo.

A story of kids' lives being changed because three teachers transformed their classrooms into an upside-down universe for their students. 

Throughout the year, San Jacinto Elementary transforms all grade-level classrooms into different themes to keep students excited about learning. 

The teachers say because the transformations are always a surprise and students know the experience won't be re-enacted it also helped with attendance numbers. 

If you'd like to listen to the podcast, you can find it here

Listen to this episode from Because I Watched on Spotify. Four Texas teachers transport their students to 1980s Hawkins, Indiana where they encounter demogorgons, the Upside Down, and a newfound confidence in their studies. This week's essay is read by Cara Buono, who plays Karen Wheeler in Stranger Things.