School Classified Employee of the Year Spotlight: Nora Cortez

Tuesday April 23, 2024

This is one in a series of stories highlighting the 2024 Kern County School Classified Employees of the Year Selections. Eight employees were selected by a committee from a pool of thirty nominees in a variety of job classifications. The eight are now eligible for the statewide award program.

Nora Cortez has been a fixture at South High School for over two decades, where her unwavering commitment to student success has left an indelible mark on the school. As a Bilingual Instructional Assistant, Nora has provided invaluable assistance to hundreds of English Language Learners (ELLs) in various subjects, including history, math, and science.

In the morning, Nora often greets students as they arrive at school, helping them navigate any language barriers they encounter. During classes, she works closely with teachers to provide additional support to multilingual learners, whether it is explaining concepts in their native language, assisting with assignments, or providing one-on-one guidance.

She’s taught me many
new techniques that
I’d not thought of before.
She inspires me to be
a better teacher.

Bonnie Oxley,
South High Teacher

Nora Cortez

South High Science Teacher Bonnie Oxley has worked with Nora on and off for more than twenty years and describes her as an amazing teacher and an inspiration. 

“She relates well to where the kids are coming from and gives them hope and encouragement,” Oxley said.

South High Teacher John Salazar agrees. 

“I have met no better instructional assistant than Ms. Cortez,” said Salazar. “She is more than a classified staff member at South High; she is an essential part of our daily goal of helping and educating students.”

Nora is also dedicated to keeping parents informed on students’ academic progress and citizenship to ensure that everyone is informed on their educational progress.  

“I cherish the connections I build with the students and their families,” Nora said. 

Nora’s impact extends beyond the classroom. She is involved with many campus groups, serves as a reading tutor for multiple districts in the county, and is engaged with Kern High’s Work Force Academy, where she provides crucial support to ELL students striving to make up credits necessary for graduation.

Nora said her favorite part of being a Bilingual Instructional Assistant is witnessing her students’ progress and growth. 

“Seeing a student grasp a concept they were struggling with, gain confidence in their language skills, or overcome a challenge is incredibly rewarding,” she said. “Knowing I play a part makes every day meaningful and fulfilling.”

By Robert Meszaros

By Robert Meszaros

Rob Meszaros is Director of Communications for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, where he has served since 2012. In his role, Meszaros oversees media relations, internal and external communication strategies, publications, Marcom, branding, and multi-media content creation. Before joining KCSOS, Meszaros was the PIO for CSU Bakersfield and earlier worked for seven years at The Bakersfield Californian.