Torrey Flores, named this year’s DPS Assistant Principal of the Year, is intent on making a difference in the lives of her students every day with her focus on joy.
The lifelong educator was a Reading Recovery teacher 23 years ago before she was tapped for a central office position as a K-5 Literacy Specialist. “But I missed the children,” she said.
Flores has served as Assistant Principal at Southwest Elementary School for 12 years.
“My goal when I come to Southwest is to make sure that people feel seen– families, teachers, students. And we’re a big school, so that can be a daunting task from day to day,” she shared. “It is our job to be present.”
For the Southwest Elementary administration, between 7:45 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. every morning, being present is their only focus. The goal is to have at least five people tell every student good morning and how happy they are to see them every day by the time they get from the bus or their car to the classroom.
They’re working carpool, opening car doors, and walking around and greeting teachers “making sure that we’re connected with everyone in a way that we wouldn’t get if we were sitting in an office. And that way we can also see if a student had a tough morning before getting to school. We can be proactive, not reactive. And I think that that has just made a huge difference.”
Flores says that kind of interaction can turn her own day around. “And that’s what we’re hoping for every child, every teacher, anyone who’s had a tough day. It doesn’t make the tough parts of your day go away but here hopefully you feel like you’re safe and you’re loved, and that way you can be ready to learn.”
She hopes that when students and staff leave Southwest, they are better for having had the experience and can “choose joy” and keep a positive mindset in any endeavor of their lives to “stay afloat.”
“If you can do that, you can get to another day, and sometimes the next day is a whole lot better,” said Flores.
Flores says her ultimate goal is to provide an educational experience that prepares the whole child for life.
“Relationships are kind of at the heart of everything we do. If I want a child to love to read, I can’t just tell them to do that. I have to build that relationship with them. I have to find what interests them, and I have to find as many things that they’re doing right as the one thing I need them to do a little bit differently or a little bit better the next time.”