Rebecca Axtell nominated Tabitha Torres for Class Acts. Axtell said Torres has the most unbelievable amount of patience she has seen in an educator. Torres specializes in teaching preliteracy and math skills to get students ready for regular preschool classrooms and is an amazing teacher and person, Axtell said.
Name: Tabitha Torres
City of residence: Modesto
Occupation: Director and toddler teacher at Montessori School of Modesto
Family: Husband Wayne; children Caitlyn, 13, Julian, 12, and Nicolas, 9.
Education background: Certificates in early childhood education certificate and Montessori infant-toddler, early childhood and administration programs
Teaching experience: I began my teaching career at Montessori School of Washington Boulevard in San Leandro and have been at Montessori School of Modesto since 2000.
Why did you get into teaching? I got into teaching because I loved children from a very young age. I have always known I was going to work with children, I just wasn't sure what avenue. When I found Montessori School, it fit me like a glove. As an adult, I was learning right alongside the children, and I am still learning. Children are wonderful teachers.
What is your favorite part about being a teacher? Seeing the children's excitement when they have accomplished a task "all by themselves."
What is the most challenging part of your job? All children want to succeed. I want to make sure they don't feel frustrated.
What is the most important lesson you've learned? To have patience and always step back and re-evaluate the situation. Be very flexible.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? With the age group of 2 to 6 years, all activities are fun.
What's next in your classroom? This month, we will be learning about Asia, dinosaurs in zoology and flowers in botany. We will also touch base on our presidents -- George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
What advice do you have for students? I work with 2- to 3-year-olds, so I tell them to always try; they will succeed.
What advice do you have for parents? What I have found works with my children with our busy schedule is to spend one-on-one time with each child, even if it's just doing errands.
What will it take to improve academic success in the valley? There is an old saying: "It takes a village to raise a child," and it truly does. To have academic success we all need to work together for the child. "We" means the parents, extended family, and the educators in that child's life.
How do you reach students not interested in school? Because I work with toddlers through kindergarten, we keep the line of communication open and find out what interests the child at home. Our teachers make materials with the subject, for example, sharks, firetrucks, etc., in the curriculum areas of math and language.
What one area should schools put more emphasis on? Schools should put emphasis on grace and courtesy and the arts.
What would surprise people about your job? People would be surprised at what children are capable of at such a young age if they are given the opportunity.
What are your future plans? To continue as the director and toddler teacher and always have an open mind.