While navigating through the fall semester after a year of remote learning has been a transition, staff throughout Las Cruces Public Schools share their excitement of being able to see students back in the buildings for in-person learning. Keeping in mind all the health practices and procedures in order to provide a safe and welcome learning environment to students, this coincides with putting needs of students first.
Heroes can be found in every classroom throughout the district, over at Centennial High School, you will find an educator who inspires students with unique needs, ensuring they not only feel safe at school, but also encourages them to believe that any person who values or displays kindness to others, can too be a superhero.
Roberto Torres is a one-to-one educational assistant for special education at Centennial High School. He works closely with one student in particular, but spreads joy to the entire classroom as he takes the opportunity to dress up like a superhero for special events. Many students in the class are nonverbal, but express excitement when they see Mr. Torres pull in front of the school driving his “Batmobile.”
Torres started his career at LCPS in 2018, as a long-term substitute teacher, he was later hired as a football coach at Oñate High School and had the opportunity to teach 5th grade at Conlee Elementary. His love for special education stemmed from working with students with unique developmental needs at the elementary school level. When students returned to the buildings last spring, Torres implemented costumes in his wardrobe during special events at school to help spread joy in the building. During dinosaur week, students worked with sand and fossils and for their lesson, Mr. Torres dressed like a dinosaur.
During the extended school year at Centennial High School, Torres was placed in a classroom with students he would later spend every day with. Sadly, earlier this year, the school suffered a tremendous loss after Jose Reyes, 59, died from COVID-19 complications on Jan. 27, 2021. Reyes worked as an educational assistant in special education at Centennial High School and was revered and loved by all who knew him, including his students.
Torres worked with high school students with special needs teaching life skills. It was during that time Torres really had the chance to bond with the students. During extended school time, Torres helped students learn how to prepare healthy meals, differentiate coins and other currency. Students also learned about different warning signs such as crossroads, stop signs, traffic lights, and hazard signs. While working with these students, Torres decided to apply for the vacant educational assistant position with Centennial High School’s special education program. Torres got the job, and continued the tradition of dressing up like a super hero at his new school.
“I enjoy working with these students, their reaction is everything,” said Torres. “The moment that you give them positive reinforcement, they’re excited, you can see it in their smile.”
On picture day, Torres made sure to dress up like Batman for students at Centennial High School. As students got their picture taken for the yearbook, Torres added to their smiles with warm greetings and positive words of encouragement. He even parked his Batmobile in the front for students to take pictures. It was a special moment for Mr. Torres as it was for his students who were thrilled to have their very own superhero at their school.