Eric Mark is running for a seat on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District's board, saying that he wants to give back to the school district that his three children have attended.
With his youngest child currently a senior at Mountain View High, Mark said the idea of running for the board initially came from a good friend, Derek Miyahara, who is a teacher at Los Altos High.
Although he hadn't considered it before, Mark said he decided that after years spent volunteering in local schools and for education nonprofits, running for the board made sense.
"I've always (cared) about the education system, and so I thought this would be the next great step for me – to utilize what I think are my skills and my caring for my community," Mark said.
He is running in a six-way race for three seats that are up for grabs this fall on the high school district's five-member governing board. Only one incumbent, Catherine Vonnegut, is vying to retain her seat. Jacquie Tanner, Thida Cornes, Esmeralda Ortiz and Carrol Titus-Zambre are also running.
If elected, one of Mark's top priorities would be tackling the growing mental health issues that students are reporting. The school district has done a great job at reacting to the needs, Mark said, including staffing wellness centers, but he said more needs to be done before problems crop up.
"As a community, we just need to come up with more proactive approaches," Mark said.
A second focus would be on what Mark has dubbed "educational diversity," or broadening the range of classes and skills that the high schools teach. While core subjects are always necessary, and Mark said that MVLA offers a phenomenal education, he wants to ensure kids are getting a more diverse learning experience.
"The issue I see there is that yes, we have kids that can achieve academically, but are they well adjusted for adult life?" Mark said.
He said that he's a big supporter of the ethnic studies program that the district is piloting this fall and that he wants to make sure the district stays the course, gives it the needed support and works to continue to make improvements. The high school's plan is to offer ethnic studies for all freshmen next fall, ahead of a statewide mandate starting in the 2025-2026 school year.
"Ethnic studies is a fantastic first step towards creating a more, I hope, harmonious society," Mark said.
More broadly, he wants the school district to be teaching various life skills, including digital literacy and tools for navigating social media, as well as things like how to interview for a job and even how to cook.
An engineer by training, Mark said that he would use his analytical skills and curiosity on the board, viewing himself as a bridge-builder who can get along well with others.
"I feel like I'm humble enough to know that I don't know the answers, but I know people that do," Mark said.
After retiring from an engineering career roughly a decade ago, he has been a stay-at-home dad volunteering in local schools. When his kids were in elementary school in the Los Altos School District, Mark said that he served on the PTA, chaired walkathons, helped organize the Junior Olympics and volunteered in the classroom.
He also mentors students with Mentor Tutor Connection, and has tutored kids at Graham and Crittenden middle schools through the group. His volunteer work has also included teaching for StreetCode Academy, a nonprofit based in East Palo Alto that offers STEM classes for underserved students.
More information about each of the candidates running for the high school district's board, will be available on the mv-voice.com website in the coming days.