From Substitute Teacher to Campus Principal
When the father of a 3-year-old boy dies, people tend to worry about how the little guy will cope without a dad. Mike Montemayor lost his dad when he was three, but no one needed to worry about how he’d cope. Mike had enough loving relatives and enough inner strength to weather that storm, and many more to come. He’s never seen challenges in life as anything other than new opportunities to grow, learn, and become the kind of man that would have made his father proud. As the principal of two of TIA charter school campuses, Mike Montemayor is a living example of what can happen when someone embraces the challenges life presents rather than is defeated by them.
Mike was born in San Antonio, Texas. Both his parents were from Mexico and they returned with their baby to Mexico City. After Mike’s father died, he remained in Mexico City in the care of his grandmother and grandfather. Mike describes his grandparents, whom he lived with until he was about 8 years old, as the two people who had the most positive influence on him as he was growing up. They instilled in him the values of integrity and hard work that are so much a part of his character today. From 3rd grade to 6th grade Mike lived with his uncles in New York and then returned to his birthplace of Texas to complete junior high and high school. Even at this young age, he had experienced more about new cultures, people, and places than some experience in a lifetime.
After High School
Mike chose to study computer science engineering at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. He had always liked and done well in math and technology so this direction seemed natural. He excelled in his classes but also discovered that because he had learned so much of the material already, he wasn’t challenged enough. After graduating, Mike returned to Texas and became a math tutor at a local college.
With an offer from his brother to move to Tucson to work with a general contractor for a significantly greater salary, Mike returned to Arizona. Given his engineering background, he quickly moved up from construction laborer to supervisor of remodeling projects. He even got to design the laser tag facility at Tucson’s Fantastic Family Fun Park. But the project that ended up being the most significant to Mike personally was when he was asked by Dr. Jennifer Herrera, founder, and superintendent of Tucson International Academy, to remodel their first school.
TIA Makes a Deep, Positive Impression on Mr. M
After spending so much time at the school and with Dr. Herrera during the remodeling project, Mike came home and told his wife, Gabriela, that he wanted their children to enroll there because he was so inspired by the work he saw being done with the kids at TIA. After Mike and Gabriela enrolled their children, Gabriela became involved as a parent volunteer and as a family, they became an integral part of TIA.
It’s Not a Dead End, Just a Fork in the Road
Then for medical reasons, Mike was told by his doctor he needed to find a different career; construction work in Tucson had taken its toll on Mike’s health. But with his ingrained ability to always see challenges as opportunities rather than defeats, Mike started looking for a new career. About that same time, Gabriela reminded Mike about TIA’s need for a substitute teacher. Mike agreed to take the temporary job as a sub just until he could find something else. But then at the urging of the parents, Mike stayed on and became an assistant teacher. Soon after that, he had his own classroom and eventually became a lead teacher at TIA. Mike Montemayor is now the principal of Tucson International Academy’s Campus. He may have planned on subbing at TIA just until something else came along, but guess what … he’s still here. And we’re so glad!