Carlos Montes is the principal at Jordan High School in Watts.
Why did you want City Year at your school? I worked with City Year very briefly when I was a dean at a middle school. I just felt like they had a big impact on the school and they had a big impact on the students that they worked with. I decided then that if one day I become a principal, I was going to make it a goal of mine to bring City Year to my school.
How has City Year been different than you expected? They go above and beyond to do more than what I thought they would do. They are open to looking at more ways to service students. Instead of a one-size-fits-all, they are willing to work with us and figure out how they can fit our students’ needs.
How has City Year changed your school? I believe we’ve had fewer issues with this year’s ninth grade class than those in the past.
Having City Year here has helped increase our [attendance] numbers. More than anything the students benefit from having City Year on this campus.
What is your favorite thing about City Year? The relationships we have built with the corps members we have here and the way they’ve been able to integrate themselves into Jordan considering we’re battling against years – decades – of Jordan being considered a bad school. I love Jordan, it’s an awesome place. We have great students. Like any other place, we have people we struggle with and students we struggle with. There’s a lot of work left to do – instructionally, behaviorally, systematically. But my favorite thing is having substitute teachers back that were here a few years ago saying they really don’t recognize this place. That’s how I know we are on the right track. And City Year is a big part of helping us move forward.
What person, dead or alive, would you invite to dinner? Abraham Lincoln. I know everyone says Jesus Christ or maybe Roberto Clemente, but yeah I’d love to be able to pick Lincoln’s brain about what led him to make decisions even if it meant losing half his country . . . and just learn about what it takes to be a good leader.