Eric Mark runs for MVLA board, campaigning on mental health and diversifying class offerings | News

Eric Mark is running for a seat on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District board of directors and says he wants to give back to the school district that his three children attended.

Since his youngest child is currently a senior at Mountain View High, Mark said the idea of ​​running for the board originally came from a good friend, Derek Miyahara, who is a teacher at Los Altos High.

Though he hadn’t thought about it beforehand, Mark said he decided it made sense to run for the board after years of volunteering at local schools and educational nonprofits.

“I’ve always cared about the education system, so I thought this would be the next big step for me — to leverage what I believe are my skills and my caring for my community,” Mark said.

He’s running in a six-man race for three seats on the high school district’s five-member board of directors this fall. Only one incumbent, Catherine Vonnegut, is vying for her seat. Jacquie Tanner, Thida Cornes, Esmeralda Ortiz and Carrol Titus-Zambre are also running.

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If elected, one of Mark’s top priorities would be to address the growing mental health issues that students are reporting. The school district has done a great job of responding to needs, Mark said, including staffing wellness centers, but he said more needs to be done before problems emerge.

“As a community, we just need to come up with more proactive approaches,” Mark said.

A second focus would be what Mark has termed “educational diversity,” or expanding the range of grades and skills that high schools teach. While core subjects are always necessary and Mark said MVLA provides a phenomenal education, he wants to ensure children get a more diverse learning experience.

“The problem I see there is that we have children who can do well academically, but are they also suitable for adult life?” said Markus.

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He said he’s a big supporter of the ethnic studies program the district is piloting this fall and wants to make sure the district stays the course, gives it the support it needs, and works to make more improvements. The high school plans to offer ethnic studies to all freshmen next fall ahead of a statewide mandate that begins in the 2025-2026 school year.

“Ethnic studies is a fantastic first step towards creating what we hope will be a more harmonious society,” said Mark.

More broadly, he wants the district to teach a variety of life skills, including digital literacy and tools for navigating social media, as well as things like job interviewing and even cooking.

An engineer by training, Mark said he would use his analytical skills and curiosity on the board as he sees himself as a bridge builder who gets along well with others.

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“I feel humbled enough to know that I don’t know the answers, but I know people who do,” Mark said.

After retiring from his engineering career about a decade ago, he was a stay-at-home father who volunteered in local schools. When his children were in elementary school in the Los Altos School District, Mark said he served in the PTA, led walkathons, helped organize the Junior Olympics, and volunteered in the classroom.

He also mentors students with Mentor Tutor Connection and has taught through the group to children at Graham and Crittenden Middle Schools. His volunteer work has also included teaching for StreetCode Academy, a nonprofit organization based in East Palo Alto that offers STEM classes to underserved students.

More information on each of the candidates running for the school district board will be available on the website in the coming days.

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