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A difference-maker
•Former CHS boys tennis player Jose Magana's passion is education
Ceres native Jose Magana, 30, was elected to the San Jose Unified School District Board in 2018. - photo contributed by Roberto Gonzalez

When Jose Magana became the first male from his family to graduate from a four-year college in 2011, he said: “I’m excited for what’s to come. I have a lot more to get accomplished and do.”

The former Ceres High School boys tennis standout has dedicated the last nine years of his life to making a difference as an educator.

He’s been a member of the San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) Board since Dec. 13, 2018. 

“I decided to run after talking with family, friends and a few community leaders,” said Magana, 30, the youngest trustee in SJUSD history. “I was doing a lot of the work already. I’m really excited to have my voice at the table. Being Latino, that perspective is important to bring to the board. Many students in San Jose have similar experiences I had as a kid.”

“The American dream is skipping generations,” he added. “The reality is we’re not serving all of our students the best we can. That’s my focus. My goal is to provide every student with a world-class education. Education was my gateway (to a better life).”

Magana, a UC Santa Barbara grad, was elected to the SJUSD Board of Trustees Area 2 seat on Nov. 6, 2018.

He beat Helen Chapman, Peter Allen and Roumen Boyadijiev.

Magana received 7,314 votes (42.9 percent).

Chapman, Allen and Boyadijiev earned 6,803 (39.9 percent), 2,167 (12.7 percent) and 742 (4.4 percent) votes, respectively.

“When my opponents spoke about the race in the beginning, they didn’t acknowledge me,” Magana said. “They didn’t take me serious at all. That was very motivating.”

Jose Magana made history in November of 2018 by becoming the youngest person to be elected to the San Jose Unified School District Board.
Magana and his campaign team knocked on 10,000 doors leading up to the election.

“On election night, I went to sleep down,” Magana stated. “My wife (Ellyn) woke me up at 4 in the morning and said I was winning. We got emotional. There were tears of joy. We were dancing. It was humbling. Just to have my name on the ballot was a big deal.”

“We expected a tight race,” he added. “We ran a positive campaign. Our campaign focused on access, equity and results. We need to make sure all students are prepared for college if that’s their choice.”

San Jose Unified School District serves more than 31,000 students from 41 different schools.

“This isn’t a game,” Magana said. “We’re impacting the lives of kids, families, staff members and the overall community. The state isn’t going to give us all the funding we need to serve our children. I want to build partnerships with businesses and community groups to bring various grants to the district.”

Magana started his professional career in education as a kindergarten teacher in San Jose. 

He transitioned into education technology as a national instructional coach and district consultant after spending four years in the classroom.

“Originally, the plan was for me was to become an attorney,” said Magana, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. “I took a class at UC Santa Barbara about education policy. It changed my mind.”

Magana is currently employed as the managing director of impact at City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.

“I manage over 20-plus people in the office,” he said. “We have over 90-plus core members. We coach teachers and directors at 14 schools.”

Magana also serves as a commissioner on the Library and Early Education Commission for the city of San Jose.

A lot has changed in Jose Magana’s life since he graduated from Ceres High School in 2007. Magana and his wife Ellyn, who is also an educator, started a family last year. Daugher Emme, 11 months, was born in June.
Jose and Ellyn, who is also an educator, were married in March of 2018.

Daughter Emme was born on June 13, 2019.

“I’m super blessed,” he said. “My wife is awesome. Fatherhood is definitely interesting. Being a teacher, I’ve always worked with kids. It’s different having your own. It’s the best thing in the world.”

Magana was raised in Ceres by his mom, dad and immigrant grandparents.

“My mom (Yvonne Alvarez) had me when she was 16,” Magana said. “My father (Jose Sr.) was incarcerated two months after I was born. He was in and out of jail. He was a drug dealer. Ultimately what changed our lives was when our house was raided when I was in the sixth grade. It was terrifying. The loud noise. The guns. I saw my dad in chains. We lost the head of our household. It was tough. I am who I am today because of it. That’s what motivated me. I don’t want other kids to experience that.”

Yvonne opened her own business in Ceres.

She’s an insurance broker for Autotal Insurance Services.

“My mom has been one of my biggest inspirations,” he said. “She’s a grinder.”

Jose Sr. turned his life around. He’s an associate pastor for Calvary Baptist Church in Turlock.

“We’re pretty close now,” Jose said. “We have a solid relationship.”

Magana graduated from Ceres High School in 2007 thanks in large part to the support Bob Palous, Brian de la Porte, Linda Cooper and Phil de la Porte provided.

He served as a student representative on the Ceres School Board.

“It was a very compassionate board,” Magana said. “Love and children was always their focus. I got to work with Dr. Hanline, Teresa Guerrero, Mike Welsh and Bill Berryhill. I got exposed to educational policy at the local level. The district did a great job of setting me up to be a problem solver.”

“I’m living the dream my family and parents fought for,” he added. “Helping people gives me motivation and life. I wouldn’t change a thing.”