LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

« Return to Nominee List

Joe Cota

Position: CTE Construction Teacher
School: El Capitan High School
School District: Grossmont Union HS District
City, State: Lakeside, CA

Support Joe Leave a comment for Joe

Joe Cota was nominated by his principal, Laura Whitaker.

Mr. Cota is an institution at El Capitan High School. He is an alumni himself, and he has spent his entire teaching career at his alma mater. He has influenced and changed the lives of so many students over the years, it is almost impossible to account for them.

Mr. Cota came to teaching after spending some time in the construction industry.  He became a teacher so he could train students in this profession. He is currently the Career-Technical Education instructor for the Building, Trades & Construction Pathway. Students in his class learn valuable, hands-on skills that they can take with them into their future careers. He establishes business and industry partnerships so that his students have full access to supports and potential networks for their futures.

As part of this pathway, Mr. Cota also teaches a guitar-making course. El Captain High School has a partnership with Taylor Guitars, and through this class, students can build their own Taylor guitar. El Captain HS offers a guitar class through the performing arts department as well, so ultimately, students could build their very own guitar, then learn how to play it. In fact, every year, Mr. Cota makes a guitar himself and donates it to the PTSA so they can auction it off at the annual senior dinner. The money raised through this dinner goes to the students so they can afford to participate in Senior Grad Night in May, and Mr. Cota's guitar always attracts top dollar for this cause.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Cota has been the varsity girls softball coach for many years. During his tenure, the El Capitan girls softball team has flourished, including both league and CIF championships. Every year, students are grateful for Mr. Cota's service to his school and to them. He is one of the first people on campus every day, and he is well-known in the Lakeside community.

"I would bet that if you asked any one if they know any teacher's name at El Capitan High School, most of them would say Joe Cota.  He truly cares about kids, and he is absolutely dedicated to them being successful in life. He is a true LifeChanger," said Whitaker.



Comments (36)


Lisa Klemp Posted 5 months ago

By far Joe is one of the most influential people I have has the pleasure of knowing. He is a one of a kind human and deserves any recognition possible!

Donna sisk Posted 5 months ago

Bless you Joe, you are an amazing man.

Shawny Hancock Posted 5 months ago

definitely one of the best and realest teachers i've ever had!!!!

ELisa Miller Posted 5 months ago

A humble, hard-working, man dedicated to student success in all areas of life Proud to work with him.

Beth hostetler Posted 8 months ago

I have known Joe for about 40 years. I met him at The Lakeside Rodeo, where I would help work in his booth. He has donated his time and energy to the Rodeo Association for many years. All the profits of this organization go to the youth in this area. He coached my two boys in football , and also my 2 girls in softball, at El Capitan High School. I teach at El Capitan and always hear the students saying how much they like Mr. Cota. What I am most thankful for is the fact that my oldest son was in his construction tech class. My son was nominated by Joe to interview for an internship at Hensel Phelps. My son was one of the 16 chosen in the United States from a pool of over 1500 applicants. He went through the apprenticeship and was one of the youngest foremen. Fast forward 10 years, and my son now owns his own business. My son's only education was from high school, no college courses! The best part is that he just was given the concrete contract at our school for our new performing arts center. Now that is a full circle, thanks to Mr. Joe Cota.

Judy Jacobs-McKee Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota has not only been a colleague and friend for the past 19 years but he was an inspirational teacher and coach for my son, who attended El Capitan High School. I have observed first hand, his ability to connect with students and help them gain knowledge and self-confidence through the various lessons and projects he provides. His dedication and commitment to his students is evident on a daily basis. He not only teaches them skills in the Construction and Wood Working trades but he gives them the tools they need to be successful in life. So many of his students, including my son, have shared stories about how Mr. Cota has impacted their lives. This is supported by the numerous students who, years after graduation, return to campus to visit him. I believe Joe Cota is an excellent choice for LifeChanger.

Savannah Minshew Posted 8 months ago

This man I call my "buddy" has made a huge impact on my life. Playing the role as my coach for two years he taught me many things about life and just how to be a good person. At the end of the day, he is always there doing his jobs for his students and student-athletes. Being on the field with him he took the time to teach me a game that I was brand new too, but more importantly, taught me to live life while having pride in who you truly are. One thing that I will never forget about this man, is that he always supported me in life. He is always willing to listen and talk with anybody. He is a role model that I look up to and is more than just a “high school softball coach” to me. In high school, he would go out of his way to attend my other sporting events and would always just be supporting his students in whatever it is they were doing. Still, to this day we are in contact and has become apart of my family as well. Overall Cota has made a significant impact on my life and has been a mentor I aspire to be.

Jeremy Smith Posted 8 months ago

Love this man like a father, well deserved recognition for sure!

Karin Cota Posted 8 months ago

I have had the pleasure to be married to Joe for very close to 48 years. I have watched him grow from a caring and loving young man to the amazing person he is today. He has always taken great pride in the community he grew up in, Lakeside, California. He has a great passion for his family, his colleagues, friends, and students. Interestingly, many of these are intertwined in that he has taught, coached, and mentored family, colleagues and friends, as well as their children. Joe is a man who truly deserves such a high honor as a life changer. All come to him to advice, comfort, and many times just to "bend his ear" and share their life experiences with him. He is compassionate, understanding, and importantly, forgiving. Joe has volunteered with the Rodeo Association, a nonprofit group that works to benefit the schools, children, sporting activities and scholarships for 45 years. Joe and I take great pride in our children who are now participating and volunteering with this group, as well. He takes great pride in his family and friend's, and student's accomplishments, some of which he was able to guide or teach them, giving them an interest and opportunity to pursue their passions, as well. Most importantly, through all of this, he has established life long friendships that defines the man he is today. A great nominee......Love You

Allyson Von Yokes Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Cota is not only an amazing teacher but he’s also a great friend. Since my freshman year everyday, he has always made sure I was doing okay. I know if I needed anything I could always come to him. What I like most about him is that he will always listen to what you have to say and is never judgmental and

Roseanne Ramirez Posted 8 months ago

Joe is a great cousin as well as teacher. I have volunteered at the high school and he has made a big impact on his students. Current and past students are always happy to see him. Coach Cota you deserve this award.

I Posted 8 months ago

Joe has made a difference in so many students lives.

Chris Smith Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Cota is the MAN!!! Best teacher at El cap! If you ask or talk to anyone about El Cap., it seems like everyone knows and love Mr Cota! shoooot i think he is more popular than half the Students! lol

Kari Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota has definitely earned this recognition. He loves what he does and he is good at it. Kids come to him for many reasons and they all just love him.

Rebekah Coley Posted 8 months ago

Very well deserved. He is a great example, and very well respected.

Tom Lowe Posted 8 months ago

No Better way to strengthen this country than truly teach and care about our youth

Debbie Steck Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota is an awesome person in the Lakeside community.

Kellene Abeyta Posted 8 months ago

He is an amazing person! I would vote for him everytime.

Jan Posted 8 months ago

Joe, I always knew you were a star! Love, Jan

Brooke Birrenkott Posted 8 months ago

Yes!!! This is so deserved!!

Chance Brito Posted 8 months ago

I met Joe recently this year and can see why everyone loves him and how much of a positive impact he has on other’s lives. He is also an amazing grandpa to my girlfriend Jenna and I’ll be lucky to have him as family someday!

Jenna Cota Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota or as I call him Poppy, definitely deserves life changer of the year. He is an amazing grandpa and I was lucky enough to go to school with him too. He makes a huge impact on every life he comes into contact with. I am lucky to have him as a grandpa!

Lisa D O'Hearn Posted 8 months ago

Congratulations on your nomination, Joe! You're a gift to all who meet you. Well deserved!

Rebekah Coley Posted 8 months ago

Amazing man. A great role model, and true inspiration.

Leonard Agundes Posted 8 months ago

Joe was my 8yr old baseball coach and is still truly a great person. I am now 57 and have the utmost respect for this man. He is the Best!

Carol Brzezinski Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota truly is a life changer!

Nina Edwards Posted 8 months ago

I agree with this nomination

Raymond Massey Posted 8 months ago

Mr.Cota is an outstanding role model and Teacher. He helped both of my children while they were in school and they learned from his demeanor that he is a wonderful human being. He also helped my daughter make me a beautiful guitar which I will always cherish. Your very talented Mr. Cota! Thank you

David Posted 8 months ago

He is also the best brother in the world.

Shea Posted 8 months ago

Mr.Cota makes a impact on the lives of his students. His care and concern are real.

Sheri Barlow Posted 8 months ago

Joe Cota is a life changing teacher who truly cares about his students. Joe is also an active member in the community of Lakeside donating numerous hours to the Rodeo association. If you are at the rodeo, you know Joe is in booth one waiting to greet you with a hug and a smile. Maybe even his laugh making you smile just hearing it from outside the snack bar. Truly a great man!

Jen Hamilton Posted 8 months ago

I love this man! He is a very close family friend. Joe Cota is definitely a one of a kind individual. Through the years, I have seen the impact he has made on students’ lives. We need more Joe Cotas out there!!

Kari Cota Posted 8 months ago

This is my dad. He is my rock. My dad truly deserves this recognition. My dad is an amazing person, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, mentor, and coach. What an awesome nomination. I believe everyone he crosses paths with is left with a lasting impression of him. I love you dad. Good luck!

Ashley Moyer Posted 8 months ago

Best teacher ever!

Krista Kress Posted 8 months ago

This is my Uncle and I had the honor of having him as a teacher as well. He is the best teacher, every student would agree. He takes the time to listen and care for everyone of his student.

Michelle Massey Posted 8 months ago

I was a student of joe Cota 13 years ago, I was really struggling my senior year with attendance.so i had to go to every Saturday school for the whole year and mr. Cota came in and called me and a couple other students to come up to wood shop and help clean . He didn’t have to do that but he did cause he awesome in every way! We still are great friends to this day. He recently also let me come back to make my dad a guitar. These are things that I will never forget and I’m forever thankful for him. I also know that so many students have more awesome stories to tell about joe cause he’s there for so many people.