Torres Teaches Beyond Classroom
February 7, 2017
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Mrs. Torres was crowned teacher of the year for 2016! With fierce dedication and an amazing attitude, she never fails to brighten up the classroom. To get to know her a little better, myself and Jake Bancala sat down with Mrs. Torres for an interview, in hopes of giving the students and faculty of South a better insight into their teacher of the year!
Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?
A: My mother inspired me to become a teacher. I graduated college with degrees in Psychology and Public Health. My original plan was to work in a nursing home environment. I was unable to find a job for eight months. I was using my savings to pay my bills. I was very unhappy being out of college and unable to find a job. My mother suggested I substitute teach just to be able to make some money while I was job hunting. I started substituting in Middletown and absolutely loved it. I decided I wanted to be a teacher, something I had never wanted to be before in my life. I worked as a substitute for a couple of months. I entered the alternate route program to become a certified teacher and the rest is history.
Q: Many students feel comfortable and confide in you for advice, how do you feel taking on this role?
A: I feel honored that students feel they are able to come to me when they need to talk about something related to their school lives or their personal lives. The truth is I am just someone who mostly listens. I find many students are just looking for someone they can be honest and open with that will just listen to what they have to say and validate how they are feeling. Life is not easy. I feel it is very important for everyone to have someone to go to when they need to talk about their feelings. I am happy to be that someone for many of the students here at South.
Q: What is one of the main goals you set to accomplish this year?
A: Every year I have two goals for myself. First one is I would like my class to be productive and enjoyable. I want students to be able to enjoy my class while we get everything done that we need to do over the course of the year. My other goal is to inspire students to want to take the next level of Spanish next year so they will continue with the language and become fluent speakers.
Q: Since Spanish is a language that is very important to you, is there any language or concept you would like to learn?
A: I am very interested in learning sign language. Over the summer, I plan on trying to teach myself some sign language. I also have always wanted to learn how to fix a car. I would love to be able to take a car apart and put it back together.
Q: Children are a primary source of motivation. What are some other sources of motivation in your life? How do you stay so positive?
A: I have a lot of sources of motivation in my life. My parents, my siblings, my son, my students, my friends, my colleagues all motivate me to live my life the best I can. As for staying positive, I definitely have my moments of negativity and sadness. I think we all do to varying degrees. When I do have moments of negativity or sadness, I think it is important for me to deal with those moments and feel the negativity and sadness so when they are over, I am able to move on from them and appreciate and enjoy my life more. I think I am able to stay so positive because despite what I have been through in life, I have a lot to be thankful for and those are the things I tend to keep in my thoughts. I also find it very helpful to surround myself with positive people like my family and friends.
Q: Becoming a surrogate is an emotional quest, how and why did you decide to do this?
A: I am a surrogate for my sister and brother-in-law. My sister is my best friend in this world. It took me four years of trying to get pregnant before I had my son. My son is my whole world. I could not imagine not having him in my life. When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago at the age of 33, it was devastating. Having a baby was the last thing on her mind at that time. For me, it was one of the things I thought about for her. I told her from the start if she ever wanted me to I would carry a baby for her. My sister is now cancer free and doing very well. She currently takes a medication that she will have to take every day for the next ten years. The medication prevents her from being able to be pregnant. I feel thankful that she and her husband agreed to let me be a surrogate for them. I know it was a hard decision for them to make. I look at it as 9 months out of my entire life for a lifetime of their happiness with a child. How could I not do this for two people that I love so much?
Q: What would you consider the most defining moment in your career?
A: I do not think one moment can define my career. There are so many things that define my career. Here are some:
All the students I have met and taught over 14 years of teaching
Coaching cheerleading for 8 years
Serving as Spanish Honor Society Advisor for two years
Serving as Junior Class Advisor for one year
The opportunity to work with and collaborate with amazing people
Attending many school events over the years
Being chosen as Teacher of the Year this year
Being given the opportunity to talk with students about my husband and his addiction
All of these experiences have left me with lasting memories that I will have with me forever. These experiences have shaped me into the person and teacher I am today.
Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: I am thankful for so many things. I am very thankful for my son, my family, having a job that I absolutely love, my friends, the people I work with, the time I had with my husband before he got sick and I lost him, the students that were and are a part of my life, my health, and for being able to wake up every day and see it as a new day with endless possibilities to do things that make me happy.