Glad to be back: Colton teacher shares about experience during pandemic


Jeremy Ortega

Terry Urban stands proudly at the head of his classroom, glad to be out from behind the computer for the first time in a year.

Yajaira Alvarado, Pepper Bough Staff Writer

Last year was a mess, to say the least.

For Terry Urban, a Colton High teacher for 21 years, it was. Urban usually taught 10th grade AVID and English, but he took a position as a full-time online (FOL) teacher in the middle of the pandemic for the sake of his family’s health.

“It wasn’t really teaching,” Urban said about the experience, which involved long hours monitoring student work from a remote screen using a curriculum software called Edgenuity.

“The students had to teach themselves.”

Urban did his best to motivate his students. “We (the teachers) had to be a cheerleader for them,” he said. It was a struggle staying motivated without student faces in front of him every day.

For Urban, who has a long time connection with the Colton community, this was difficult, even as it was necessary for him and his family.

Terry Urban goofed around in this classic photo from his 1991 yearbook. (Courtesy Colton High Archives)

Born and raised in Colton, Urban and his family have roots in the community. His father worked for Stater Bros. for 40 years, and many family members still live in the city.

Urban graduated from Colton High with the class of 1991. He was active in the drama program as an actor and sound manager, played tennis for all four years, and enjoyed designing in the ROP drafting course.

As a teacher at Colton High, Urban distinguished himself as a student-centered teacher and coach. He coached boys’ and girls’ tennis for 15 seasons, and also coached the wrestling team.

When he is not at school, Urban enjoys time with his wife and children, loves sci-fi and fantasy books, comics, and movies, and collects little league pins.

Fun fact: he has collected more than 10,000 little league pins over the years.

Urban is grateful to be back in-person at school, working with kids in a classroom instead of behind a video camera. Having everyone back is one of the best things that happened to him this year.

With all the transition the campus community is facing this year, Urban’s advice to everyone is direct and necessary. “Enjoy your time in school.”