LA River School

Unsung Hero: Me, myself, and my counselor Mayra Montoya

Mayra Montoya. Whether it’s helping students apply for college or just being there to brighten one’s day, she is always helping people around her making sure everything is okay. She believes in her students and that they can achieve a lot in life.

Ms. Montoya has been working as a counselor for approximately 10 years and a college counselor for six, but what she didn’t know was that she would be a college counselor for LA River High School. She’s been at LA River for two years as a college counselor.

Her original career goal was to be a social worker to help families and teenagers, however, she soon came to see that social work in Los Angeles is more paperwork than anything and wasn’t really what she wanted. It wasn’t until she began tutoring little kids that she realized this was the job for her.

Ms. Montoya worked at Nightingale Middle School as a counselor then went to work at Lincoln High School as a college counselor. During this time, LAUSD was laying off many staff members and sadly she was one of them. She began searching for jobs and getting interviews when one day she received an email saying, “You don’t know me, but I know you because you were my niece’s counselor and she told me that you were unemployed and we’re hiring. Would you like to come in for an interview?” It was the from someone at a local charter school that had emailed her. Since she was unemployed by the district, she accepted their offer.

She saw that there were no college programs or classes at Sotomayor so she went out and started getting colleges to come and she meet all the principals. That is how she met Ms. Puich, the principal at LA River. Ms.Puich told her of a job opening at LA River but it wasn’t confirmed so Ms.Montoya said no. Time passed and Ms. Puich asked her once again and she took a leap of faith going for the job.

Her leap paid off and she’s been at LA River School for almost two years. She is always on top of students, helping seniors with college applications and helping students who stopped believing in themselves.

We asked Ms. Montoya if anything in her childhood affected her wanting to help other students. She said, “In my family, education was a privilege. My father would tell me we had a golden ticket that we had the ability to choose what we wanted to be in the future. His question to us was never are you going to college it was always which one are you going to.” That made her want to really help students help them be successful in life.

She also said she loved her job but the only difficulty she faces it that some students like to slip through the cracks and she has to go looking for them, but overall it’s a really great job.

She truly feels she’s helping and making a difference in the students’ lives.