Andres Mercado - Teacher artist

Lake Marion Creek Middle School teacher Andres Mercado, a Winter Haven resident, stands next to one of his murals he has painted at the school.

Andres Mercado is a local teacher and artist hoping to make a positive impact on his students and society.

He says he often remembers that baseball great Roberto Clemente once said, “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.”

The Winter Haven resident is an art teacher at Lake Marion Creek Middle School in the Poinciana area of northeast Polk and doesn’t have an exact name for the kind of art he creates.

“I do not make a particular art. I like many styles, but I lean more towards drawing and expressionism — carrying some message in them,” Mercado said.

He also tries to convey his love of art to his sixth through eighth grade students.

“Through my classes, I try to spark interest in my students by learning about the history of art, culture and, above all, values like respect,” he said. “Which, in my opinion, are much needed in the times we are living in.”

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Mercado said his interest in art began as a child.

“I think my brothers were my first teachers, as I tried to copy what they drew,” he explained. “Then, during my school years, I used drawing as a means of expression and communication. I also had several teachers who encouraged me along the way.”

He says he’d like to pass that along to his students, using the art and sports.

“I’d like to develop values through sports, specifically, with a basketball league, which will allow every young person no matter the talent to participate and learn values,” he said. “I’d also like to help the special education community with my art. I would like to be able to open a center to provide lessons or workshops.”

The married father of two said he believes that sports – especially basketball – helped make him into the person he is today.

Mercado said that a current school project is his all-time favorite.

“My favorite work so far is the #LMCMMurals, as it aims to motivate, inspire, and support students during this difficult situation (COVID-19). These murals are being created by our students and they’ve worked extremely hard on each of them,” he said.

The students are also making 3-D masks with recyclable materials promoting culture and traditions in different parts of the world.

“The care of our environment and saving the planet through recycling is important,” Mercado said. “I’ve witnessed the sense of belonging, pertaining to and care of the school this project has sparked. It makes me proud.”

Above all, Mercado’s goal benefits the students.

“I think my greatest focus is to make them believe in themselves,” he said.