Practicing what they teach
Torres sisters receive master’s degrees
The concepts of lifelong learning and continuous improvement are often used by educators as guidelines by which students are taught and career paths are formed. Sisters-in-law Angie and Liz Torres have applied those concepts to their careers in a very direct way, and have learned a lot about themselves in the process.
Liz and Angie are veteran educators for the Porterville Unified School District. After many years as classroom teachers, both transitioned to administrative roles: Liz is currently Olive Street Elementary School’s vice principal, and Angie is the vice principal at John J. Doyle Elementary.
But in a profession where techniques and methods are constantly evolving, both sisters felt that continuing their education would be beneficial to the development of their skills and understanding of their craft.
So after several years of hard work and a few stops and starts along the way, the Torres sisters both received their Master of Arts in Education this last June from Brandman University.
It was the culmination of a long and arduous journey for
both of them, as they both completed their coursework while working fulltime and raising families. Both sisters acknowledge that the process of teaching by day and learning in the evening was a daunting challenge.
“It’s important to know that something you feel is impossible is actually possible,” said Angie Torres. “There are many obstacles that get in the way. Yes, you’re going to fall. But when you do, you get right back up and learn from it.”
The Torres sisters represent a growing portion of the working adult population who are returning to school to enhance their skill set. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, adult learners ages 30 to 34 years old are expected to increase by 29 percent through 2024, and students 35 years old and over by 26 percent through 2024.
“In reality, there is no perfect time to go back to school,” added Liz Torres. “Sometimes you just have to make it perfect.”
The Torres sisters were particularly lucky to have each other for support throughout the process. Not only do they both work as vice principals in the same school district, but they are married to brothers, so their lives mirror each other in many ways in and out of the classroom.
“We have done so many things together that I can’t imagine doing something like pursuing further education without her right by my side,” said Liz Torres.
The knowledge the sisters acquired while obtaining their degrees will enable them to make more informed decisions as administrators and face future challenges with greater context and confidence.
“I wanted to take my next steps — to not only be a leader in the classroom, but beyond it as well,” said Angie Torres.
Resuming the role of students after years of being teachers and administrators has given them new perspectives on learning as well. Both sisters expressed a renewed appreciation for the importance of a supportive and stable learning environment for students of all ages.
“It is important to build positive relationships with your students. You must acknowledge their fears and let them know it will be OK,” said Liz Torres. “Once that happens and needs are met, the barriers come down and students are ready for learning. We experienced that ourselves in our coursework, and we took that perspective back to our sites and incorporated it.”
When asked about advice they would give to adult learners, the Torres sisters noted that ongoing education is an investment in one’s self that is worth overcoming a few obstacles to accomplish.
“Embrace challenges and know that in the end all your experiences add to your learning,” said Angie Torres. “It’s OK to not have the answers and to not know. It’s what we do with that in saying instead ‘I don’t know yet.’ It’s moving forward and not giving up, even when things get overwhelming.”
“Time is going to keep on passing by,” added Liz Torres. “You have to take the initiative to move forward in your education.”
Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution that serves 12,000 students annually with programs available online and at more than 25 campuses throughout California and Washington. The university’s online programs consistently rank among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.