From Mexican descendants and a father of three and a marriage of 29 years, Sergio Mendoza is ready for his newly appointed position as Burton School District’s (BSD) Superintendent.
Mendoza is a well-known man around the Porterville community, after serving Porterville schools since 2006 and being involved in many community events and organizations.
Mendoza is the son of two Mexican nationals and has five siblings. Mendoza is a South Texas Native, born in Donna in the Rio Grande Valley.
He has been married to his wife Mary Ann for over 29 years, and together they have three children: Aaron, 27, Alyssa, 24, and Adrian, 17. His wife is a kindergarten teacher in Sanger, his older son is studying at UC Santa Barbara, his daughter is the activities director in Aptos High School, and his son will soon be graduating from Sanger High School (SHS).
Mendoza’s family moved to Sanger in 1969, and since then he has been part of the San Joaquin Valley. He is a SHS graduate class of 1980. During his time in high school Mendoza was a tennis player, but never considered the sport at a collegiate level. Mendoza continued his education in 1980 at Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC) in Moraga, located in the East Bay area.
“It was a fun thing, that I never thought I would do,” Mendoza said, adding he already had made the decision in his head that tennis would not be in his life after high school. “It turned out to be one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.”
Mendoza played tennis his whole four years at SMC, and received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
“I came back to the Valley and started working in a mental health facility for youth and was just not what I really wanted,” said Mendoza as he explained how and when he got into education.
Using his experience as a tennis player, Mendoza started to coach tennis at SHS, where he became a bilingual instructional assistant, helping students that were English learners at an elementary school. Consequently, Mendoza became an instructional assistant in a special day class. Within 12 months, Mendoza became a full-time employee.
In 1988, Mendoza pursued a multiple subject credential at Fresno Pacific University and was employed as a special day class teacher at Clovis West High School.
By 1991, Mendoza continued his education to receive a Masters of Education and Administration at Fresno State. Mendoza became vice principal in several Parlier Unified Schools.
In October, 2006 Mendoza made the transition to Porterville as Burton’s director of categorical and alternative programs until 2014.
In 2014, Mendoza had the opportunity to move over to Porterville Unified School District, where he assumed two positions as director of assessment and accountability.
On Monday, Nov. 19, Mendoza was welcomed back by BSD staff, bringing more than 31 years of experience to the district.
“I have 31 years of experience of being a classified employee, an aid, a teacher, a vice principal, and a principal, and I think that experience and knowledge really prepared me well,” Mendoza said. “My philosophy will be different than the previous superintendent. I believe that we are all individuals, we want to care for the students’ needs. The experiences and knowledge of different roles that I have played in all the positions have given me a different perspective.”
Mendoza said it does not mean it’s a whole new different era, but one of the things he likes to do is to listen actively and know what is happening in the district before decisions are made.
“It’s not all about complete change. It’s knowing what we have before making change,” Mendoza said. “I started the ‘healing process,’ on Monday by getting our principals and our leaders together and letting them know who I am, what I think and how I would like them to be prepared and participate.”
Mendoza said the biggest need at this particular time at BSD was accomplished last Tuesday.
“The hiring of the superintendent was one of their greatest needs at this time,” Mendoza said. “I call it a ‘healing.’ They had a difficult time since the departure of the previous superintendent. This is that one step they needed to really make it supportive.”
Mendoza is really hopeful with the dual enrollment program and the dual language classrooms at BSD. He says they are excellent successful models to move forward into the future.
“BSD has always supported students. We are producing students that are prepared, ready and can go in any direction they please to,” Mendoza said, adding that he likes that parents want to be part of the district’s community. “We want to get 100 percent of our kids to be successful.”
Mendoza leads the fifth largest district in Tulare County with over 5,000 students.
“It felt really nice when they said, ‘Welcome back home,’” Mendoza said, adding that building relationships has been the best and biggest part of everywhere he has gone. “The things I love about administration and teaching is everywhere I’ve been I collected friends and family, and I don’t forget those.”
Mendoza has been driving from Sanger to Porterville for the past 12 years and says he will continue to do so for a long time. Throughout his years working in the Porterville area he says there are times when he feels more a part of this town than Sanger. Mendoza is committed to many organizations in Porterville, and is an advocate for the Latino community.
“I want to make sure voices are heard, and the only way that will happen is if they are a member and sit here with us at our district,” Mendoza said. “I’d like to have people within the community be leaders, and I know it’s hard, but the nice part of me is being able to speak Spanish.”
Mendoza is part of the Central California Youth Summit, California Association of Child Welfare, City of Porterville Step-UP Committee, and California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, and member of the Knights of Columbus.
Aside from his job duties, Mendoza enjoys walking, hiking and jogging.
“I try to jog at least three times a week for the stress and health,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza is an active Catholic. He participates as a Eucharistic Minister, gives communion alongside the priest, and participates as a lector during church.
“I love to travel,” Mendoza said. “After Christmas, I will be going to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.”
Mendoza is hopeful for the years to come at BSD, and is positive BSD and Porterville Unified School District will work together for the good of the community’s students.