For 18 years Armando Torres worked as a paraprofessional for the Santa Ana Unified School district. But he longed for something more.
An as a teenage immigrant from Mexico, Torres had benefitted from caring teachers at Santa Ana High School. After graduation, he longed to help other young Latino boys and girls to get their education and carve out meaningful lives with choices. So he stayed connected to the school, coaching, tutoring and being and aide in bilingual and special education classes. At the same time, he worked second, and even third, jobs to pay the bills and support his family. He says he stuck with the school for so long because he had a dream, a dream to teach.
Torres was able to make the dream a reality when he enrolled to pursue his college degree and enter an alternative Teacher Corps certification program. Through the On Track Scholars Transition to Teaching program at CSU Fullerton, Torres earned his teaching credentials in math and special education so that he could serve low-income and Spanish speaking students in the Santa Ana community. While in the program, Torres said he benefitted from the veteran teaching workforce at Santa Ana High who supported him and mentored him through his fulltime career as a teacher.
Today, Torres is a teacher at Santa Ana High, teaching math to special education students. He says that he remembers himself as someone who went through many of the same struggles that his students deal with today. He is able to be a positive role model and show them that no matter what age, education is important and they can do it too. Because of his life experiences, Torres is able to relate to parents and explain to them the importance of being engaged in their student’s education, and he is able to connect with the students he serves and loves so much.
“Teaching has been the only career that has ever interested me, Torres said. “After working for over 18 years with the Hispanic youth of the city of Santa Ana, I have been motivated in pursuing a teaching career to be a positive role model and to demonstrate to this youth that with hard work and perseverance anything can be accomplished in this country.”
Bea Ceja-Williams is a Program Manager for School Leadership & Transition to Teaching Programs and for Teacher Quality Programs in the Office of Innovation and Improvement. Before joining the Department of Education, she was an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in California.
Find free resources for teaching English Language Learners at the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition.
Explore paths to teaching at www.TEACH.gov.