Omar Mercado is an experienced high school teacher of 21 years, always working with the students who need him most- the special education students in predominantly Latino communities. He is a community builder who strives to include all stakeholders in decision making. With great respect for all persons, he reaches out to challenge the status quo of any environment he finds himself in. He was raised in an economically challenged Latino community and was the first of his family to attend college, thereby setting a new course for his family and his community. His passion for equity, social justice, healing, and education drives him to pursue an end to systems of oppression and generational trauma.
As a Restorative Practitioner for 10 years, he has dedicated much energy to destroying the pipeline of ‘school to prison’ for disadvantaged youth in California, as well as with his community, professional colleagues and family in restorative circles. His motto is “Build schools, not prisons.” He lives his culture as an Aztec dancer and in his spiritual practices including smudging, prayer and sweat lodges. In 2000, he was recognized as the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Man of the Year. In the 2017-2018 school year, he was the Teacher of the Year in Southwest High School. He signs all his emails with “Adelante Siempre”, or in English, onward always.