Mr. Cortez has been a hard working teacher at Poway High School since the fall of 1995, where he has always looked forward to school activities like the teacher airband. Cortez invests a lot of time into these dances, and enjoys seeing how much the students like watching them. He believes that the airband also helps bring teachers from different departments together, when they normally wouldn’t be friends.

After graduating from Poway High School in 1989, Mr. Cortez began his career at Bernardo Heights Middle School, and then went on to teach at a High School in Los Angeles for a year. Following this, he began teaching Spanish here. Recently, He was selected as Teacher of The Year by a committee of teachers who have previously been chosen as winners.

“I view myself as equal to all of the other teachers here,” Cortez said. “I don’t think that things like this award should set someone apart from others.” Nonetheless, Mr. Cortez does a few things inside the classroom that help him stand out. Cortez tries his best to make school fun and interactive while still following the Spanish curriculum. To do this, Cortez creates a fun working environment inside the classroom. This is apparent in activities like his famous “Dance Party Fridays,” where kids are encouraged to dance along to fun music he plays like “Fireball” by Pitbull or even “Thriller” by Michael Jackson to celebrate the upcoming weekend in his classroom before class starts.

“Mr. Cortez was nominated by teachers for this award because of his amazing ability to connect with his students, and his dedication to his instructional time in his classroom. These are also some of the primary reasons why he was selected.” Principle Nash said “This is just the first step for Cortez. He can apply to the district Teacher Of the Year, and then the County Teacher Of the Year, and eventually make it all the way to National Teacher Of the Year.”

“Cortez made learning Spanish a lot better by making every day fun and always involving everyone in the class,” sophomore Alanna Schrader said. “He is great at making Spanish easier to learn with his enthusiastic personality, making sure class was never boring.”

Cortez also provides students with tools they need to be successful. “Mr. Cortez helped me find a Spanish tutor that worked for me, and helped me by giving me some tips on how to study more effectively. He is truly an amazing person and always has such a positive outlook on life.” sophomore Whitney Ulrich said.

These are just some of the aspects that set him apart from other teachers on campus. “In the future I hope to sustain some of the same goals I have been working toward over the years, teaching students the language of Spanish, but also using the course as a guideline for teaching time management, goal setting, and for learning how to be a positive and kind person in general,” Cortez said. “I always hope that when a student leaves my classroom, they will have a strong foundation, and a few more tools in their toolbelt to help them accomplish their future goals.”