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Meet Another 2021 ATPE Campus Rep of the Year

Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

Date Posted: 9/07/2021

The Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Award acknowledges those special ATPE volunteers who are fundamental to the continued growth and development of our grassroots organization. This year’s winners were honored during the 2021 ATPE Virtual Summit. 

ATPE member Karina Torres of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD was presented with the Campus Rep of the Year Award for Local Units with 1,001+ Members. Karina is an ESL kindergarten teacher at Tipps Elementary, where she’s entering her second year as an educator. She’s been with ATPE for about six years since her college days. 

ATPE spoke to Karina about her inspiration to become a teacher, the vital things new teachers should know, and the importance of joining the ATPE community. 

What made you want to be an educator?
Growing up I always loved school, and I actually decided to be a teacher when I was in high school after being part of the early childhood practicum (ECP) program where I worked with and taught children as an extracurricular class. It was the best experience with amazing connections that paved the way to my career. My mom says it’s always been in my blood. I would role-play teacher when I was a toddler and would even go to summer school for fun as a child. It’s a career that makes me happy and I am proud to do! 

What is your favorite part of your job?
Hands down, it has to be playing, exploring, and learning with my students! Sometimes we break out into lessons outside of the curriculum just because they have questions or their curiosity is expanding and I can see their interests branching out. The connections you make with kids are the highlight of this job, and you end up making connections with their siblings and other family members just by keeping your door open and making yourself available.  

What is the most important thing you wish someone had told you when you started out in your career?
Teaching is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs you could ever do. There will be very hard days, and those days may lead to a good cry or a scream to yourself, but you pick yourself back up and start a new day when the sun comes up. When you see those light-bulb moments or when a child reaches out to you to share something important to them, it makes it all worthwhile. Don’t hold on to the negatives, and don’t hold on to the situations that happen in the classroom or label a child because most of the time that’s the only way they know how to communicate. There’s always a positive, and a child is always looking for someone to really see them.  

What is the most important thing Texas educators can do for their profession? 
Don’t get stuck in certain ways. We are students too, and we are always growing and learning. Attend as many trainings and opportunities to learn new things and keep advancing. Keep an open mind and keep growing along with the times and along with your students. Also, join a community that’s trying to create a better future and is trying to grow you as a person. That’s one of the reasons I joined ATPE—because it’s a group of people I can learn from, and it provides opportunities for me to be a better me.