Teach901 Educator Spotlight: Yari Torres

Find the original article here: http://www.teach901.com/educator-spotlight-yari-torres/

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Yari came to KIPP Memphis Academy Middle after teaching high school Spanish for five years. School leader Andy Bobowski says she then “took a leap of faith” and took on the very big job of teaching fifth grade reading. “She has a thirst for knowledge and is constantly learning and is incredibly humble and coachable and always thinking about how she can get better,” said Mr. Bobowski. Because of that drive, Yari is now a leader in her school, serving as the fifth grade grade level chair.

When asked about how she and her co-teacher Erin White find inspiration for the engaging lessons that are bringing about remarkable results in their classroom, Yari said,  “A lot of the ideas Erin and I come up with for our lessons come from several places, (1) our past experiences, (2) our fellow teachers/admin, (3) the interests and individual needs of our students.”

Learn more about Yari below.

Hometown: I was born in Puerto Rico but because my father was in the military, we moved around a lot. I call Tennessee my home though because I’ve spent most of my adult life either in Clarksville, Knoxville, or Memphis.

College: University of Tennessee-Knoxville

What’s your favorite thing about teaching?

My favorite thing about teaching are the students. It’s an amazing feeling being able to provide my students with new knowledge and see them grow both academically and personally.

What’s the hardest thing about teaching?

The realization that there are numerous factors that affect my students’ ability to learn and that a lot of these factors will almost always be out of my control. Our students are so much more than what we see in front of us in the classroom. It can be frustrating to know that they may not be getting the things they deserve outside of a school setting which in turn can affect their success in the classroom.

How long have you been at KIPP and why did you join?

This is now my second year at KIPP teaching 5th grade ELA and my first year being 5th Grade, Grade Level Chair. I chose KIPP because of my Principal, Mr. Bobowski. I’ve known Mr. Bobowski for 6 years and when he offered me the opportunity I was hesitant at first.  I knew it would be a huge difference between working at a high school and transitioning to a middle school charter, but when I heard his vision and saw his passion for our kids in Memphis translated in the form of academic rigor and character building, I knew this was a place I wanted to be.

What’s compelling to you about the Memphis urban education movement?

I am so proud of the growth of the urban education movement in Memphis. The realization throughout the years that our students are not getting the education they deserve and instead of continuing on this downward trajectory, trying new things and being open to change, is something that is extremely admirable of the city and its school system and I’m proud to be a part of that.  

Tell us one thing about you that people would be surprised to know or something you are passionate about besides teaching.

I actually have a Bachelors’ and Masters Degree in Social Work. Not so surprisingly, it has come quite handy in my 6 years of teaching!


Molly Wallace