Over 25 years ago, Ronnie Pittman started college with the intentions of becoming an engineer. He quickly found out that sitting in an office all day wasn’t for him and moved on to physical therapy before giving nursing a try, and then finally ended up in teaching.
“I came to the point where I asked myself, is this what I really want to do? And I really didn’t,” said Pittman. “I started praying, ‘God, where do you want me to go?’ He started opening doors for me, and after 25 years, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Pittman loves the challenge of making his class interesting for each and every student. His students never sit at a desk or read textbooks; they’re always working on exciting projects, building everything from Rube Goldberg machines to musical instruments, and applying scientific principles to create valuable solutions. In his hands-on class, everyone is constantly moving.
“My engineering design students are building a car, my physics students are building a launcher, and my physical science students are building greenhouses to learn about the differences in temperature,” said Pittman. “We’re talking about global warming: is it true or not true? And then we incorporate math into it. I tell them that the wood [of the greenhouse] shouldn’t be more than a certain thickness and that it has to be a certain volume, and I’m going to measure it. I’m going to be particular.”
Thanks to Pittman’s active approach, learning becomes realistic and relevant as classroom concepts come to life. With a drill in hand, students gain real-world experience by using math and science to solve everyday problems.
“When they first finished the car, they were like wait — we can build anything! Once you understand how to work with wood and work with steel, that’s how most everything is made,” said Pittman. “It’s the beauty of ‘I can make anything, I can make whatever I want!’”
Although Pittman believes in the importance of an active and collaborative classroom, his faith truly dictates his teaching approach. It’s his reason for what he does. He starts every class with a quick worship talk, sometimes relating scientific concepts to faith and sometimes sharing a story, which his kids now excitedly look forward to as “Story Time.”
Outside of the classroom, he considers coaching gymnastics his second ministry. He started competing in gymnastics himself in eighth grade, and as a junior in high school, he began to coach competitive gymnastics at different gyms. He continued gymnastics throughout college, and for 23 of the last 25 years, he’s coached high school teams.
“It’s a ministry. There’s a reason why we do this. My purpose for teaching is building relationships, and last year, my team was like my family; you get really close to the kids,” said Pittman.
Pittman loves the freedom he’s given to try innovative projects like building greenhouses and constructing solar race cars. He enjoys watching his students tackle these projects and grow into lifelong learners, compassionate leaders, and creative thinkers.
“The relationships I get to form with the kids; that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I do it,“ said Pittman. [I want my students to have] a desire to improve. A desire to do more. A desire to rise above. A desire to be different. And ultimately — a desire to know to God.”
Get to Know Ronnie Pittman
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I have many hobbies! I have fun with anything active or outdoors; I like four-wheeling, off-roading, boating, and paintball. I have a jet ski and a little sail boat that I like to take out!
Q: Do you have a favorite movie or TV show?
A: My all-time favorite would be MacGyver. I can relate to him! It’s kind of what I do as well; I enjoy making things.
Q: What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled?
A: My family and I had really good times in Puerto Rico, so that holds a special place. I love Tennessee; it’s where we lived the last 13 years. I’d also love to go to Cuba; I have some second cousins there and I’ve never been.
Q: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: Probably pizza! Well, pizza or Taco Bell.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A: The power to make kids interested! Or the power to make students want to succeed.
At North Tampa Christian Academy, a Tampa private school, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.