Meet Portola’s New Profes


Michelle Kim

Lopez teaches his Spanish 2 class, circling verbs like ‘camino’ (I walk) and ‘terminamos’ (we finish) and underlining key terms like ‘cansado’ (tired) and ‘las clases’ (classes). ¡Qué interesante!

To support the growing number of learners who want to add Spanish to their course list, the world language department hired Spanish teachers Erika Jaçome, Otto Lopez and Brian Salgado for the 2021-22 school year.

This year marks the first time that Jaçome has taught at the high school level, having spent five years teaching Spanish at Pelion Middle School in South Carolina and English to English language learners at Myra Linn Elementary in Corona. She currently teaches Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.

“I like the fact that it’s a new school, so being able to build that rapport with students and getting to know my colleagues,” Jaçome said.

Teaching high school Spanish is a first for Lopez as well, who spent two years teaching Spanish at Brookhurst Junior in Anaheim and two years at Willard Intermediate. Lopez also spent one year teaching world history and directed world history at Woodbridge High. He currently teaches Spanish 2 and Spanish 3.

“My favorite part about teaching at Portola so far is the students,” Lopez said. “I’ve had a great first two months… the students are super nice; they’re super bright; they’re always pushing me to think.”


Salgado, whose connection to Mexican heritage was a major factor in his decision to teach Spanish, noted diversity as one of his initial — and favorite — observations at Portola High.

He currently teaches Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.

“At the beginning of the school year, I made a survey [asking,] ‘what languages do you speak at home?’ and just seeing all those languages like Ukrainian, Korean, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu and all of these different languages, the diversity of mindsets at this school also, I really enjoyed,” Salgado said. “I think that’s something really unique to Portola High School that Portola students shouldn’t take for granted.

As the year progresses, Jaçome, Lopez and Salgado will continue their unique teaching backstories in classrooms scattered across the 700s building.

“What I’d like to tell my students is, education is a journey,” Salgado said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but it’s always important to celebrate the ups, no matter how many downs there are.”