Welcome SMHS Graduate, Mr. Ortiz!


Mr. Ortiz’s Official Picture

Mr. Ortiz is the new Spanish teacher! He is an alumnus of SMHS, class of 2015.

Some students and staff may recall seeing Mr. Ortiz around last year when he was doing his student teaching. He was completing his teaching credential with Mrs. Pantoja, a Spanish teacher.

His high school experience was almost like some students’ as he came to the US when he was entering to become a sophomore. As a migrant student, he did not have a lot of friends and was not involved in clubs or sports. “It [high school] wasn’t a good experience until senior year. By the time I could understand what the teachers were saying in class. I didn’t feel like I was the only one not having any clue about what was going on.”

There is a memory of his junior year, Ms. Nelson’s English class, where everyone had to read out loud. When the time came for him to read, he did not want to read because he could not speak English. There was an attempt to read when a classmate was snickering, so he walked up to him and said, “What are you laughing for,” in Spanish. The teacher asked what happened as he went outside to shed some tears. He told her about the situation. Mrs. Nelson came up with a solution of allowing him to practice a specific page to read the next day. “I would like to thank you, Ms. Nelson. She was so helpful to me. I would go home and try to practice reading that page. Then I was ready the next day. I would act surprised and start reading.”

He decided to become a teacher when he was in his senior year. “I felt so supported by my teachers, counselors, and staff. Everyone was so supportive. I was like, I want to do this one day. I want to come back here and inspire and help other students just like I was helped.”

A subject that interested him was mathematics, which was like another language of numbers, plus and minus signs, and he felt most competitive in being at the top of the class.

He continues to communicate with the teachers he had in high school. He had Ms. Aguilera, Ms. Bennett, Ms. Lopez, Ms. Luna, Mr. Guiremand, and Ms. Dematteo. “I still talk to them…they always say ‘Hi’ to me very nicely. They always say, ‘Hey, you need something or have a question, we are here for you.” He thanks them every time. He would like to say, “Sorry if I’m forgetting one of you [teachers]. I am sorry.”

“My brother and I are the first to enter college on my mom’s side of the family.” The pathway of his education followed community college at Allan Hancock College for three years, up until 2018. Then, he transferred to Cal Poly for two years. He took a year off. “I wasn’t sure if I was going back to Mexico and just work over there or stay here.” The following year, he started his teaching credential and is now here.

Something that he wished that he had done at Cal Poly was the opportunity to live on campus. The problem was not being able to afford to live on campus, so he had to drive daily to school. He was not involved much because of that. He also had to work early in the morning or on the weekends. Another wish was the chance to study abroad. Things could have gone better, but his experience was still good.

He started to work when he was a junior at Mcdonald’s by Fesler Street for five or four years. When he went to Cal Poly, he worked at another McDonald’s in Orcutt. One quarter, his schedule was in the morning from 5 am to 11 am, classes from 1 pm to 6 pm, and then at the Cal Poly language lab, helping students with their Spanish and Italian courses. Even though he worked, he could organize his time to have a job and complete school work.

An exciting memory happened last year. Mr. Ortiz finished the student teaching hours and had an interview for SMHS on a Thursday. He looked forward to receiving a call in a week or so. The next day, when subbing for Ms. Anderson for two periods, she was back early, so they both covered the class. He received a call from the district, so he told Ms. Anderson about the call. “They were offering me the job. I was outside this new building, between the administration and international languages department building.” He screamed excitedly. At that time, the counselors were outside nearby. They hugged him when he told them. He remembered that he was subbing, so he came back and told Ms. Anderson and the class, congratulating him. Also, he was able to call his mother about the news.

As a teacher, he likes talking to students, listening to them about their future, and relating about how he was in their situation. He shares his experiences with the hope that the students become inspired. There is excitement about learning about his colleague’s ways of teaching and applying those teachings into practice in his classes in the future.

Some hobbies include hiking, going for walks, going to the movies, and getting together with family. “I’m starting to enjoy that a lot more. Before that, it was just my friends, but now with the family. I would say that I have a good relationship with them.” Another hobby is watching soccer and playing it even though he is not that good.

The piece of advice that he would like to give students is, “Work hard and if you think you want to do something, then go ahead and do it. If Mr. Ortiz was able to do it [be successful], then you can too!”