Whether she’s teaching AP European History, courses for English Language Learners, or dancing on the quad for school spirit days, Jenny Ortez tries to actively engage herself and her students.
As a single mother, Jenny Ortez started her career in education as a way to earn money as she pursued her college degree taking evening classes.
In 1998, she was hired as an Instructional Aide, where she tutored students with learning disabilities, helping the students with all school subjects.
Working with the students and staff at Woodside High School stimulated Ortez’s passion for the field of education.
It was no surprise then, that when she graduated five years later that she was offered a job as a Social Studies teacher.
“This department was a true family,” remarked Ortez.
Since she started teaching Social Studies in 2003, Instructional Vice Principal Diane Mazzei praised Ortez for her constant desire to improve herself.
“She tries to be better each year,” said Mazzuei.
Part of this self-improvement entailed helping out throughout the school, going above and beyond her duties as a teacher.
Ortez started the Advanced Placement European History program at Woodside High School, giving students a way to delve deeper into the subject.
In the class, students participate in a variety of interactive activities, including the “Ortez Exprez”. In the activity, Ortez sets up the classroom as a bus trip through Europe, where students take a journey through history from Marie Curie to surrealism.
Throughout her courses, Ortez emphasizes the need for students to become good citizens by being curious about goings-on in the world.
“My job as a teacher of social studies is to get the kids to ask questions about what they read, what they see on television”
As a history teacher, she attempts to have students examine who wrote the texts and what motives they might have for writing history the way they did.
Like many teachers, Ortez’s proudest teaching moments are when students clearly illustrate knowledge for a subject they once struggled with.
“When students don’t understand the concept and it finally hits them like a lightbulb,” explained Ortez, “That’s the proudest moment.”