Ivan Rosales Montes’ desire to pursue and advance his career in education has been shaped by his lifetime as a student, going back to his early childhood. Now he wants to apply those experiences and qualifications to leading the Morgan Hill Unified School District if he wins the Nov. 3 election for Area 5 Trustee.
Shortly after Montes’ parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1979—landing in Santa Clara County—Montes became an English language learner in a Spanish-speaking household. He said his teachers “took me under their wing,” and he now attributes his success as an educator and principal to the support his teachers showed him.
“Education is the vehicle to transform the lives of our youth,” said Montes, 36, who is currently the principal of San Antonio Elementary School in the Alum Rock Union district. “I recognize that our educational system isn’t perfect, and there are opportunities to bring it together; to try to really listen and understand what the needs are of the students in our district. And those (needs) are always changing.”
Since his childhood, Montes has continued his own education—including as a Fulbright Fellow studying abroad and recent recipient of a doctorate degree from University of Pennsylvania.
Throughout his career as an educator—which started as an English teacher—Montes has worked at elementary, middle and high schools. Montes believes in “constantly engaging” students and families—“listen to them and always continue to do right by them.”
“What is important to me is, making sure those that are impacted have a voice,” Montes said.
As the MHUSD Area 5 Trustee, Montes said he would continue to promote more STEAM education in schools throughout the district. He touted MHUSD’s recent and ongoing efforts to embrace more STEAM curriculum. “We are in Silicon Valley, and it’s important to deepen our educational programming so students have access to jobs around us,” he said.
He would also work to make sure MHUSD maintains “robust early childhood” education programs. Montes said he would also work to improve and extend learning opportunities for disabled, socioeconomically disadvantaged and “more vulnerable” students.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to keep students learning at home, Montes agrees it is “not safe” to open schools yet. He said distance learning is a “new reality” that both students and educators are getting used to, and he has some ideas on how to embrace such virtual academics.
Montes supports efforts by some families in MHUSD and in the Alum Rock district where he works to establish “learning pods” where students gain more reliable internet connectivity and work on becoming more proficient at distance learning technology.
“It’s not safe to reopen schools now but we need to constantly have conversations about what is working well and what is not working well, so we can evolve in our distance learning efforts,” Montes said.