LA to benefit from Torres’ travel

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Though Teacher of the Year Carolyn Torres will be traveling the states as part of her new status this year, it will be the community of Los Alamos that stands to benefit the most.
She’s already been out to Arizona, where she’s met the other teachers of the year from the other states during a weeklong conference in January. She described it as a prep course for what to expect on her tour, as well as a way to get acquainted with her fellow teachers.
“We did our introductions, practiced our speeches and learned what will be expected of us,” Torres said.
The Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored, in part, by The New Mexico Public Education Department and TEACHNM, an organization that offers teachers career guidance.
The score is partly based on a description of how and what they teach and how they apply Common Core techniques. Her tour is being sponsored in part by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Of course, Los Alamos has been helping her get ready for her tour as well. Earlier this month, Beaver Toyota stepped forward with a leased, 2014 Toyota Corolla to help her get around within the state, and countless businesses including C.B. Fox, Smith’s and others helping her with her wardrobe and travel expenses.
At the end of April, she will be heading to Washington D.C. Though she’s not certain yet, her trip may include a trip to the White House with a tour of the Oval Office and pictures and a luncheon with President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden, along with all the other teachers.
That will probably be followed by a dinner in their honor.
Then, she said, the teachers will then get down to business, with the week full of seminars and lectures where the teachers will get to learn new things and exchange ideas with each other.
One of those lectures will be about learning how to use the “Smartboard,” a tool Torres won along with her award.
Best described as a cross between a flat screen television and a chalkboard, Torres will be using the new tool to enhance her lessons in the classroom when it arrives in April.
Other events will include a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., as well as another conference in New Jersey.
Through all these events, Torres hopes to bring back some new ideas as well as share some of her own with her colleagues. She hopes also to get the others’ take on issues impacting school systems around the country such as teacher evaluation, turnover and career management.
“They also do some collecting of information,” she said. “Because now, all of the sudden, you’re in a place where all or almost all of the 50 states are represented. We can ask what happens at everyone’s schools; it’s a good problem-solving brainstorming group.”
Torres, who teaches math and science at Chamisa Elementary, is looking forward to that aspect of the tour.
“One of my biggest things is collaborating and sharing,” she said. “That would include mentoring new teachers and sharing ideas. I hate some of the systems that come in that create competition among teachers. You start to say ‘I’m not going to share my idea if I’m going to be compared against you’. I’m at the other end where if I have something good and you can take from that and use it for something in your class, and I can take something you’re using, then we both have better classes.”