Jibranh Ortega teaches Spanish at Rancho Cotate High, where teachers recently won a salary increase after a successful strike. He loves reading, writing, hiking, and teaching. He also enjoys listening to good music and serving the community in any way that he can.

Who do you admire, and why?

I admire my maternal grandmother, Doña Maria de Jesus Rios, an extremely diligent and strong woman. I’ve often thought, “How the heck did she manage to get through the rough events of her life?” She was an orphan during her childhood and a widow with 10 children by the age of 30. She battled many social injustices, and never gave up.

What was the last best thing you ate?

The last best thing I ate were pastries (cake, fruit tart) from Oliver’s Market on Stony Point Road. They’re simple and delicious. Totally worth it!

Name something you do or do not regret.

I don’t regret spending money on traveling. Saint Augustine once said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” And when we pass on, we are not taking anything with us except life experiences.

What 3 things bring you joy?

Hot sunny days at the beach. Hiking at local state parks like Taylor Mountain, Annadel or Shiloh Ranch. Reading great mysteries, biographies, or nonfiction.

Where else have you lived?

Guadalajara, Tijuana, and the San Diego area.

What are you good at making?

I am good at making carne asada tacos with fresh homemade tortillas (made by hand), meat from the local Mexican store, chopped cilantro, chopped grilled onions, and a touch of lime. I also like to put either pico de gallo or homemade salsa de molcajete on my tacos. I think Gordon Ramsay would probably approve. Ha!

Recall a time you changed your mind about something.

According to a recent publication, teachers make an average of 1,500 decisions a day. Therefore, I am usually changing my mind on a regular basis. Sometimes my lesson plans don’t always go as planned, or the class gets into an interesting off-topic discussion, or students need more time on an assignment. Situations like these require me to make instant decisions and decide how I’m going to proceed.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would perhaps live under a tremendous amount of stress. Why? Because not failing can lead you to become a perfectionist. I have several students who are perfectionists and since failing is not an option for them, they deal with constant stress. Also, if you didn’t fail you wouldn’t learn from your mistakes. Failing is a good learning experience.

If you could instantly have one skill, what would it be?

I would love to be able to type fast without looking at the keyboard or screen. Growing up I remember watching my 8th grade science teacher, Mrs. Buschman, type extremely fast on the computer while also holding a conversation with a student at the same time. It was an impressive skill I wish I had.

You host an intimate dinner party with up to 4 guests, living or not. Who’s coming?

That’s a tough question. I have too many people in mind. However, I would probably like to have dinner with Jesus Christ, Buddha, Prophet Muhammad and Lord Shiva. They are perhaps the most important religious figures in the world. I would be curious to listen to their conversation.


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