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Student Board Member - Zachary Patterson

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Zachary Patterson was first elected to represent the students of San Diego Unified School District in October of 2019. He is the first student to ever be elected to the Board of Education, holding the title of Student Board Member. Zachary was recently reelected as Student Board Member in May of 2021. Zachary is currently a senior at University City High School in District A.

Zachary has been a life-long student of San Diego Unified. He started his education at Curie Elementary, followed by Standley Middle School, and now University City High School. Through out his childhood, Zachary has served as a student leader through various student leadership positions and advocacy circles.

Three years ago Zachary began working with the San Diego Unified School District to unite student voice by creating a Student Advisory Board, and adding a student to the Board of Education. His work took him across the district as he envisioned the creation of a system that could accurately represent the diversity of San Diego Unified School District. After learning about the student population, creating a plan that would encompass all students, and overcoming the obstacles that stood in his way, Zachary received approval from the Board of Education. With this approval the election of the first Student Board Member commenced. On October 29th, 2019 Zachary was first elected by the students of San Diego Unified School District to serve as the Student Board Member.

Zachary's first initiative as Student Board Member was to convene the inaugural Student Advisory Board. After successfully appointing a diverse group of students, Zachary will look to this group for ideas and advice on how to best represent students. Their perspective and experiences will help him gain a stronger understanding of students throughout the district.

During his first term in office Zachary fought for student mental health and successfully changed district absence codes to allow excused absences for student mental health. Subsequently, he personally worked with students and successfully directed the district to require mental health education as a requirement for graduation. Zachary has stressed the urgency of climate change and worked with students to successfully pressure Governor Newsom to end offshore oil drilling. Zachary has also worked with students and staff and is proud to have helped move the district towards a standards based grading system that works for every student. 

Looking forward, Zachary is prepared to continue  work for the students. Specifically, he wants to work with those that have been left out of education. He is a believer that the students who are the most disconnected from their education, are the individuals that need to be heard. As a school board member Zachary is focusing on a few key initiatives. Climate is at the top of his agenda. He is working to ensure that SDUSD is meeting its Climate Action Plan and taking concrete steps toward becoming a carbon neutral school district. Zachary is also focusing on mental health, and applicable education. He is passionate about ensuring that curriculum being taught relates to a diverse student body.

Zachary's goal is to ensure that all students feel they have the resources and support necessary to be successful students and individuals in school and beyond.

"Being the primary stakeholders in our education system, we deserve the ability to have the representation that ensures our success."

He is excited to work in partnership with the Student Equity Ambassadors, Council of ASB Presidents, PTSA, Student Wellness and Resources Committee, and general student population, in order to ensure an education system that is for the students and by the students.

In addition to his work on the Board of Education, Zachary is the President and founder of the California Student Board Member Association and a member of the California Chief Justice's Power of Democracy Steering Committee. Zachary is a cross-country runner who enjoys hanging out with friends. He participates in multiple clubs on campus including California Scholarship Federation, and Casas de Luz- a club which builds houses for impoverished families in Mexico. Zachary is a part of YMCA Youth and Government, and is a frequent representative of San Diego Unified to the Student Advisory Board on Education. He serves as a member of the Executive Team on the San Diego Unified Council of PTA's. Zachary hopes to attend a four year university with a major in political science. One day he hopes to again represent the people of San Diego as an elected official.

Zachary invites all education stakeholders to advocate for the change they want to see in their education system.

Zachary can be reached at [email protected]