Election year spices up this aspiring teacher’s political science classes


Jennifer Priest Mitchell

Jose Carlos Flores Ortega (BA, SED ’17), called J.C. by most, completed a classroom observation last year in an American government course with high school seniors. He said that every student knew something about the upcoming presidential election, and it made the class even more interesting. “They would watch the polls and discuss highlights of the debates among presidential candidates last spring. In fact,” he said, “the kids who were old enough to vote actually waited in line to cast their votes earlier this year. It was great to see they had that much patience for and interest in the process.”

“I always loved politics and following current events, and when I was in community college, I realized I want to teach political science.” He believes he can make a difference in the lives of his own students while teaching in that setting one day. He said some of his professors at Phoenix Community College had multiple master’s degrees, and some had doctorate degrees, and they pushed students to succeed. “They broke down the stigma attached to community college, and I want to help do that when I teach, too.”

A native of Glendale, Arizona, Ortega said, “I am involved in all kinds of organizations as a volunteer, and that started when I was at PCC.” He said that he volunteers with several Latino organizations because he likes to reach out to those who share his heritage. “I also do a lot of work with local food drives, and I have been a big brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for three years. I love political science, which is my major, and I love working with kids and helping them to have fun while learning. The secondary education certification program at ASU let me blend those things together and will help me reach my long-term goal.” Ortega said he plans to eventually earn a master’s degree at ASU before teaching political science at a community college.

Learn more about Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College’s SED certificate program here.

Tales Out of School

A lightning-round interview that introduces you to members of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College community.

What three things are always in your fridge?  

Dr. Pepper, milk and ice cream.

 Last movie you watched that made you cry:

“The Good Dinosaur.”

 Last book you read:

“Teaching with Love and Logic.”

 Teaching is the most important profession because …

Teachers help shape future leaders of the community.

 The teacher who most inspired you was …

Mrs. Gonzales, my 7th grade social studies teacher. She was a role model for her students, and we still keep in touch.

What are you most grateful for?  

The people who have gone out of their way to help me when I didn’t even believe in myself.

Why did you choose education as a major?  

I knew my calling was to help students.

Who inspired you when you were young, and why?

My mom. She worked two jobs and raised me all by herself. She is the strongest woman I know.

Who inspires you now?  

I would still say my mom. She actually helped shape my teaching philosophy.

What was the biggest risk you ever took and what did you learn from it?  

Pursuing a college degree. I am the first out of my family to be born in the United States, along with being the first to attend college.

Three historical or fictional people you would have over for dinner:

Ronald Reagan, Anne Moody and JFK.

What’s your favorite mode of transportation, and why?

I recently traveled to Spain and I loved their metro. It was convenient, and it was super-easy to use.

What’s your go-to food?  

Anything spicy.

ASU moment to remember:  

The first time I used the campus shuttles. I got lost.

Biggest change in classrooms from when you were a child to today:  

There is definitely less lecture and more of the practice of teaching strategies.

If you could listen to only three songs for the rest of your life:

“Weaknesses” by Phora; “Just a taste” by SKSK; and “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls

Biggest mistake:

Not taking high school seriously.

Biggest accomplishment:

Graduating with my bachelor’s degree debt-free.

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done:  

I spent a few weeks in Madrid.  It was a very exciting experience.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self:

Don’t worry about what other people say because you will change the world.

Favorite movie quote:

“You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.” –Christopher Gardner in “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

Pet peeve:

When someone eats off my plate without asking.

App you can’t live without:  

All Goals app to keep me up to date with all the soccer leagues.