Comment: While navigating the fall semester was a transition after nearly a year of distance learning, Las Cruces public schools staff share their excitement at seeing students back in the in-person learning buildings. Taking into account all health practices and procedures to provide students with a safe and welcome learning environment, this coincides with the need to put students’ needs first.
Heroes can be found in every classroom across the district. Over at Centennial High School, find an educator who inspires students with unique needs and makes them not only feel safe in school, but also encourages them to believe that any person who values or shows kindness to them another, can also be a superhero.
Roberto Torres is the One-to-One Special Education Assistant at Centennial High School. He works closely with one student in particular, but spreads joy throughout the classroom when he takes the opportunity to dress up like a superhero for special occasions. Many students in the class are non-verbal, but express excitement when they see Mr. Torres stop in front of the school with his “Batmobile”.
Torres began his career at LCPS in 2018 as a longtime substitute teacher, 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 came from working with students with special development needs at primary school level. When students returned to the buildings last spring, Torres introduced costumes into his dressing room at special events at the school to bring joy around the building. During Dinosaur Week, students worked with sand and fossils, and Mr. Torres dressed like a dinosaur for their classes.
During the extended school year at Centennial High School, Torres was placed in a classroom with students, with whom he later spent every day. Unfortunately, the school suffered a huge loss earlier this year after Jose Reyes, 59, died of COVID-19 complications on January 27, 2021. Reyes worked as an educational assistant in special education at Centennial High School and was supported by. adored and loved all who knew him, including his students.
Torres worked with high school students with special needs to teach life skills. During this time, Torres really had a chance to bond with the students. During the extended school years, Torres helped students prepare healthy meals, distinguish coins and other currencies. The students also learned about various warning signs such as intersections, stop signs, traffic lights and danger signs. While working with these students, Torres decided to apply for the vacant position of Educational Assistant in Centennial High School’s special education program. Torres got the job and continued the tradition of dressing up like a superhero at his new school.
“I enjoy working with these students, their reaction is everything,” said Torres. “The moment you give them positive reinforcement, they get excited, you can tell by their smile.”
On photo day, Torres made sure he dressed up like Batman for the Centennial High School students. When the students had themselves photographed for the yearbook, Torres added warm greetings and positive words of encouragement to their smiles. He even parked his Batmobile in front for the students to take photos. It was a special moment for Mr. Torres, as well as for his students, who were thrilled to have their own superhero at their school.