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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

Cooking from the heart: Emily Renteria

Family and consumer sciences teacher Emily Renteria teaches students how to cook from the heart.
Emily Renteria is a family and consumer sciences teacher with a passion for culinary arts. (Photo courtesy of Emily Renteria)

Steamy hot pizza baking in the oven, the aroma shifting through the house. A beautiful plate of grilled asparagus in lemon. These are some of the foods teacher Emily Renteria loves to cook.

“I always like to say that food was part of my upbringing, like my family tradition. So from having my mom in the kitchen and having us, like, decorate a cake, or she even bought us all little rolling pins to help her make tortillas. So I think I just grew up with it,” Renteria said.

She also loved watching cooking shows with her siblings and would have their own cooking competitions in their kitchen.

Renteria enjoyed food and family time when she was little. (Photo courtesy of Emily Renteria)

“Yeah, so my favorite food is mole. It’s like chicken mole and some chocolaty savory delicious sauce with some rice. And, but in that mole, there’s like, all sorts of like spices, you could put apples, like, nuts. It’s this big sauce, basically. And when I would see her put down, like, that’s what we’re eating. And we’re like, how, how did that go from that?” Renteria said of the magic of her grandmother’s cooking. It was through her grandmother that Renteria learned the secret ingredient in cooking is love.

“So when I had my own apartment, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna talk to my food, because that’s what my grandma did.’ But I feel like that was her little niche,” Renteria said.

Her grandmother, and the holidays, which were centered around food, played a major role in inspiring her passion. In Renteria’s memory, food and family always went together.

“Like, if you’re done eating, she’s like, here’s another tortilla, have some, so it was always part of the community. You never eat by yourself. You always had everyone sitting at the table, talking about your day. So yeah, that was my grandma’s food story,” she said.

Renteria is now writing her own food story as an educator her first year of teaching. Renteria teaches fashion, and of course, foods, a class she highly recommends students take.

“You can eat and you work with others. I feel like in the real world, you’re always working in a team or communicating with someone, you have to communicate,” Renteria said.

She enjoys teaching 9th-12th graders, particularly building a relationship with the students.

“I feel like the community that I’ve built is a nice, welcoming one where they can feel safe and feel themselves, which kind of makes it a better learning environment,” she said.

Renteria at the Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education conference. (Photo courtesy of Emily Renteria)

While Renteria’s position at the school is relatively new, she has developed some Wildcat Pride already, and is becoming ingrained in school culture.

“I think Ms. Renteria adds a lot to the CTE Division and the WeGo community as a whole. She has a similar background to our students that enables her to connect with students instantly. She has been in their shoes and understands students, and she has already made a positive impact here. I knew when I interviewed her that she would do a great job, and I was really excited when she decided to join our staff. She has a bright future here and in education,” said Activity Director Marc Wolfe.

Renteria graduated from high school in 2018, and was inspired to go into education by her Spanish teacher, who was also Hispanic.

“That was like one of the only Hispanic teachers I have ever had. I’m like, wow, like this is crazy. And maybe because it was a language Spanish, like for a second. I was like, maybe I could teach Spanish,” Renteria said.

She indeed did think about teaching Spanish, but ended up choosing to teach family and consumer sciences.

“In the culinary foods class, everybody eats. I work with high schoolers, but I specifically wanted high schoolers because I feel like we could have more conversations and I can help them in the future,” she said.

Not only do her students enjoy working with her this year, but they also report being engaged in her lessons due to her expressive personality.

“She’s a nice, fun, and lively teacher,” sophomore Connor Holloway said.

And while her tenure with WEGO may be temporary, Rentaria has left her mark on the staff as well.

“Ms. Renteria has a lot of energy when she teaches.  You can tell she is passionate about her subject area, but also about teaching her students new skills that will benefit them now and in the future.  She has a strong rapport with her students.  She has made quick connections in her short time here.  I’ve also been impressed with her creativity, willingness to try new strategies, and the organization of her classes.  As a first-year teacher, she is beyond impressive!” Wolfe said via email.


Oct. 11 2023

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Renteria was a long-term substitute when instead Renteria has been contacted by the district for full-time/permanent employment.

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Ryan Zalak
Ryan Zalak, Sports Editor
As a WEGO baseball player currently in his senior year of high school, Ryan Zalak enjoys going to the gym and would love to learn and speak Spanish. This is his first year in Journalism, and Ryan has enjoyed meeting new people. Ryan’s future plan is to go to COD and decide whether to pursue a career in automotive or as an electrician.
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  • Leslie FiremanOct 18, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you, Mrs. G.! We updated the story with the correct information. 🙂

  • Mrs. GierzynskiOct 11, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Ms. Renteria was hired as a permanent teacher. I’m the one doing the long-term subbing for the 1st semester maternity leave for Mrs. Mullins. Ms. Renteria is a great teacher–her energy and enthusiasm is bound to rub off on her students! Plus she helps out this old lady when I’m flummoxed by technology that is a snap for her.
    Mrs. G.