Learn a Few Things About Me
I am Mel Cortez. I am a life long educator. I have been educating children since 1991. I have taught elementary, middle, and high school students for 29 years.
My wife, Maria, and I have lived in Cerritos since we got married in 1992. Maria is also a teacher. My daughter and son are products of ABCUSD.
For the past four years, I have served as an appointed member of the ABC District's Legislative/Policy Board Advisory Committee. I am also an appointed member of the Cerritos Safety Committee.
Through the years I have volunteered to serve students in non-school related activities in a number of ways. I have coached soccer for the City of Cerritos Youth Soccer program, AYSO 54, coached for Cerritos Blaze Track Club, and Little League Baseball. I have also founded and advised several after school clubs, including Little Sierra Club, Chess/Rubik's Cube Club, 100 Mile Club, Astronomy Club, Theater and Video Production Club, and advised the Student Council. I also volunteered with the Boys Scouts of America as a Scoutmaster. I also do parent workshops in a variety of topics, from Bullying, Dangers of Social Media, to Math in the Kitchen.
I've also served my community as a Volunteer on Patrol for the cities of Lakewood and Cerritos. I have been a Neighborhood Watch Captain for several years, and helped several neighborhoods start their own NW groups to keep our community safe. I have been trained with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) for over 20 years. Another way I serve my community is through social media. As administrator of the Cerritos California Neighborhood Facebook Group and member of several local Facebook groups, I use the power of social media to keep our community informed of crime trends, ABC district related issues, city events, health, pets, and anything of interest to our community.
I also serve my profession in several ways. As a teacher I have served as a Teacher's Union Chair and Co-Chair for many years, and I'm an elected UTLA House of Representatives member. I have served as an officer in school's PTA, I am a member of the School's Safety and ELL Committees, and have been President of the School Site Council for several years. In my years of teaching I have also served as Bilingual Coordinator, Title One Coordinator, and Testing Coordinator.
In my spare time I play for an organized soccer club, I run a few days a week, go hiking as much as I can, go on road trips, and love to travel to new places. I'm also an adrenaline junky, as I do skydiving, bungee jumping, and like to explore caves too. I also like to learn new technology and use is as much as possible to be on par with the students and young people I serve. I do a lot of reading in different topics to stay current with the world and new trends to be able to relate to my students all the time.
Teaching and COVID-19
I will never forget March 13, 2020. That was the last day I saw my students in the classroom, it was a very sad day. That weekend I evolved into a virtual teacher. I used my extensive knowledge of social media and other digital tools to find a more efficient and creative way to communicate with parents and students. I even started a Facebook group for parents of ABCUSD. ABC Teach At Home Facebook group has kept members informed on how to use technology at home with distance learning.
To continue teaching my students, I was ready to start using Google Classroom, but decided to make my own website to post daily work, videos, lesson plans, and I utilized Zoom to the fullest for daily live lessons.
Virtual Academy will be a challenge for many, but embracing it is the first step to ensure successful teaching and learning. As a teacher I can't wait until I am allowed back in the classroom. There is nothing like seeing those kid's smiles every morning and their eyes opening wide as they learn something new.
Why am I Running for ABC Trustee?
I am running for ABCUSD Board of Education, Trustee Area 5 because the future of the district and schools is at stake. Our current board has not addressed the declining enrollment of students in the area, if we do not start planning and working with our local cities to address our aging population and decline of school age kids, our district as we know it will change drastically, and several schools will be in danger of closing their doors forever! This affects schools in the west side and TA5 more than others areas. I am running for the ABC Board to keep the schools open.
My 29 years of teaching and many years of service in my community have prepared me to help plan for the future of our school district by working with students, parents, teachers, the community, and cities' government. We all need to work together to come up with a plan to make sure our schools do not close!
My top priorities are:
1. Address declining enrollment ASAP. Schools will close if we don't.
2. Work with schools and community to improve all schools. Our home school should be as desirable as any other school.
3. Make sure no student stays behind. COVID-19 has brought new challenges to our education system.
4. Make Board meetings 100% accessible to the community. The Board works for the community.
5. Oversee the spending of the millions of dollars from the BB Bond. It's your money.
If elected, I pledge to serve the full term. I will not abandon the students by running for another elected position, and I will not ask to be appointed to anything that will leave Trustee Area 5 without representation. As a life long educator, I am only interested in serving the students. With your support, I'll make sure WE work together to address the above issues. I am not running as I, but as WE, I will always be your voice, and I will always put students first.