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Teacher profile: Ms. Ortiz

All images by Edith Croshaw

Born in the city of Bellflower to a big family, Ms. Ortiz is the fifth of six children. Her parents initially came to the United States from Sinaloa, Mexico, with their three oldest children hoping to provide their family with a better life. She recalls moving throughout California as a child, living in places like Long Beach, Oxnard, and eventually South Gate, where she stayed for quite some time. In fact, Ms. Ortiz graduated from South Gate High School and later worked her first gig as a teacher there in 1997 after attending Cal State LA for her degree. It was awkward working with former teachers but teaching students who shared her experiences as a first-generation child of immigrants made her a respected figure at South Gate, and she treasured her time there.

She was lucky enough to have her sister as a coworker with whom she eventually went on to work at a newly started school, South East High School, due to an increase in students in the area. When she finally made her way to Eagle Rock, she was able to find a sister in Ms. Clark, and the two are now inseparable. Having a friend like that made the transition from South Gate to Eagle Rock substantially easier, as the two environments weren’t alike. One of the first things she noted about Eagle Rock was the lush greenery found both in nature and in our lockers. The quad is one of her favorite parts of our school: the ability for students to play football and picnic was very appealing to her. 

Currently teaching 9th grade and IBDP English, Ms. Ortiz’s love for language arts began with her love of classic literature. Authors such as Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, Shakespeare, and Ralph Ellison compelled her to pass on this knowledge to new generations of students. She feels that texts such as these contain beneficial messages that can impact all of our lives. While the heavy workload of grading essays is not Ms. Ortiz’s preference, she loves it when students share their ideas and interpretations of literature, or when she can offer her support to her students. This more “human” aspect of teaching is her passion. 

Ms Ortiz is an avid reader, runner, and amateur chef. Also a sponsor of Students Run LA, she is currently training for her next marathon. Like most of us, she abhors running. However, it’s the feeling of accomplishment after a run that makes it all worth it. She admits that reading for fun isn’t always possible during the school year simply because there’s no time, but one book that caught her eye was Siddhartha by Herman Hesse; this short book tells a simple yet captivating story about Buddhism and the meaning of life. In terms of her cuisine, Ms. Ortiz loves cooking with her family. She enjoys traditional Mexican food, spending hours in the kitchen making dishes from scratch, no matter how many ingredients there are. Another dish she loves to make is a classic Spaghetti Bolognese. 

In addition to this, Ms. Ortiz loves hiking and traveling. The sounds of nature feed her soul, and she feels refreshed by the peacefulness of it all. In terms of traveling, Ms. Ortiz has done a bunch. Having been to places like New Orleans and Oaxaca, it is on her bucket list to visit France and eat a freshly-made baguette with an accordion playing in the background, at the same time without worrying about calories… wouldn’t we all like that? 

When asked the controversial question of what color the subject English was, she took a more symbolic perspective, saying a deep cranberry red, almost like blood; this represents life and the passionate aspects of English. Additionally, regarding what punctuation mark she felt best represents her, she said an em-dash due to its dramaticness and uniqueness; it’s not like a comma or period, it’s bold, interesting, and informative.

Sometimes, when the world is too overwhelming, Ms. Ortiz will go to the beach and stare at the horizon, realizing how insignificant her issues may be compared to the vastness of the universe. However, when you take Ms. Ortiz’s class, she will instill in you that your voice matters and you have a significant role in this world. She encourages you to think deeply and think big. Ms. Ortiz is a treasured member of our community. If you ever happen to be by room 206, be sure to say hello!

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