Teachers & Leaders
Meet Tanya Torres. She is a Founding Staff Member and Assistant Principal of Operations at IDEA McAllen. Every morning, she meets with fellow principals and her operations team while simultaneously making sure instructional staff and students have what they need for the day.
Tanya has coupled her nine years of experience from being a store manager at Walmart with her love of teaching. It is a position she holds near and dear to her heart.
“Honestly, I went through a hard time when I was transitioning from high school to college and so that’s my why for the job I do. I work for IDEA because I really feel like the best thing we can do for kids is to make sure that they’re prepared when they leave us and they transition well into a university.”
Read on to learn how Tanya contributes to the IDEA Team & Family, where she takes pride in her daily routine, and how she is 100% committed to getting students ready for success in college and in life.
How long have you been with IDEA?
I started working here at IDEA in 2012. In my two years as a teacher, I was teaching 1st and 2nd grade students in English and Language Arts. As a second year teacher, I earned the title of Teacher of the Year! I was enjoying my work and enjoying being with the kids. However, sometimes I would chat with the Assistant Principal of Operations (APO) who was here before and ask him questions about his position.
What made you want to transition from teacher to APO?
Previous to IDEA, I worked in retail, at Walmart stores for 9 years. The last 5 years that I was there, I was the store manager. I oversaw 500 employees, 17 salary managers, 10 million dollars in inventory, and 100 million dollars in sales. My degree is in International Business with a focus in management.
So when I heard more about the APO role—managing a group of adults and knowing that it was a goal-driven part of the organization just like teaching—my interest was sparked. I thought: “Wow, I could do both things in one job. I enjoy being able to work with students every day and being part of their growth, learning, and fulfilling IDEA’s mission.”
Take me through a day of an APO. What responsibilities does this entail?
One of the main responsibilities of an APO is safety, particularly the safety of the students. My morning consists of coming in and walking the campus, saying good morning to teachers and greeting all students, and checking and looking at all the duty positions that we have out there. Duty positions include bus duty, hall duty, just monitoring these zones to ensure we have staff situated there. During this time, I am checking to see if anyone needs help or our assistance.
I also check the facilities with the Facilities Manager, making sure the air conditioner is up and running and that there are no issues with the facility or building. I make sure breakfast has been delivered to the classrooms and that all of our scholars have their fresh hot meals ready for them when they enter.
All in all, we are making the best experience for the scholars from the moment they get to school. We always want them to feel like they are at home and that they are safe.
What is your proudest moment as an IDEA APO?
Definitely I would have to say my proudest moment would be this school year at the Back to School Bash. It was announced that our Operations Team here in McAllen had been chosen as the Operations Team of the Year. It was really exciting. It was something that we had been working towards as a team.
One of my goals, since I became an APO, was for our Operations Team to rise to that level of execution that our Instructional Team was known for. When my team was called up to the stage, it was so exciting for me and for the team because now we can say that we are operating at that true level of excellence.
What goes into making your team the best?
A lot of time and hard work. There is no fairy dust. There is no one thing that we do, but many small things.
My operations team works really well together. When times are tough, or when we are trying to achieve ambitious goals, I always make sure to remind everyone to keep the focus on what is important: our students. We do everything for them and we keep them in mind at all times. That is what helps us achieve amazing results—teamwork.
What would you say to someone who is interested in a positon like the APO role?
If you love working around hard-working adults and are ready to fulfill this mission of College For All, then it’s an incredible experience to lead this group of people. Don’t be afraid. Just set your goals in front of you and work on them every single day. Work hard towards achieving those goals, keep them in focus and you will definitely achieve them. In fact, it will become second nature as time goes on. It is something that can definitely be done.