LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jose Mendez

Position: Elementary Teacher
School: Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy
School District: Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy #483
City, State: Fort Hall, ID

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Jose Mendez was nominated by his colleague, Sherice Gould.

Mr. Mendez was born and raised in Mission Hills, CA. Los Angeles may be where he's from, but Mr. Mendez calls southeast Idaho home. He is a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science from Grinnell College in Iowa. Mr. Mendez finds teaching at Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy in Fort Hall, Idaho invigorating because of the wonder and excitement that students can discover learning new subjects building off of what they already know.

When he began teaching at Chief Tahgee Elementary Academy, he and his colleague, Bailey Dann, found an immense need for both a library and a clothing bank. Students lacked access to books depicting characters with diverse backgrounds and a variety of stories. Many students lacked proper protection from winter elements. After giving students winter clothing from their personal closets, Ms. Dann and Mr. Mendez realized they needed more resources.

They began collecting gently used and new clothing, including coats, new socks, and hats in 2018. Together, they reached out to their college alumni community, who responded with numerous boxes of clothing and books as well. They collected over 20 boxes of clothing to develop a school clothing bank and over 720 books for the library.

CTEA's current clothing bank serves over 90 students and their families. Many have expressed gratitude for providing winter clothing for their children. The library now spans a collection of more than 800 books. Both the library and clothing bank are a welcome addition to the food bank that Chief Tahgee Elementary operates for the community.