Angel Mejico

El Cerrito Middle School, California, USA

Angel  Mejico

Angel had an unorthodox route into teaching. She originally wanted to be a paediatrician, gaining her bachelor’s degree in biology and acceptance to medical school. However, the teaching experience that she got during her medical studies made her realise that she was better suited to helping others in a different way. This led to a change of direction and a teaching qualification instead.

In her first teaching job, there were bullet holes in the top windows of the classroom, but Angel met the challenges and by the end of the year her class had higher test scores than anyone expected. She again achieved the same impact when moved to a roving teacher post. But the contribution she wanted to make came when she finally got her own classroom, which she turned into the “Art Barn” – a creative space where anything goes. Here, students can feel free to explore both their own creativity and the connections between art and other subjects of study.

Angel also created the Art Expo for her school – a huge 900-piece exhibition and performing arts concert where students from all subjects express their distinctive personalities while also developing their craft and technology skills. The expo was originally meant to raise money for a deceased colleague’s family, but it has since taken on a life of its own, with community businesses donating both time and money to help make the event a success. Before Angel arrived, her middle school did not have an art programme: now there is a waiting list of 50 students every year.

Angel has made the effort to take her perspective further afield and contribute to the sharing of knowledge. She has spoken at professional conferences throughout California (such as Cal Poly Pomona’s teacher education program), as well as in Africa and China. In 2019 she won the California Teacher of the Year award – a huge accomplishment against some of the toughest competition in the country. In 2013 she was a recipient of the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Award, and since then she has also earned her doctorate in Sport Management and Leadership from the US Sports Academy. She is now in the process of establishing a non-profit organisation called DO MORE that will assist other causes with money, time, supplies, publicity, and whatever else is necessary in order for them to succeed. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, she would use the prize money to establish this organisation and help it grow.