'Butterfly teacher' remembered for her dedication to students, passion for education
September 4, 2012
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Aug. 31, 2012) -- "Teresa was someone who really cared about the school and students always, and you are never going to find anyone more dedicated than her."
This is how Mary Fernandez, a teacher at Arnn Elementary School, described her co-worker and close friend as she reminisced about her time spent with Teresa Torres, formerly an information specialist and librarian at Arnn.
Torres died July 20 while in Oklahoma, in the company of her husband Fernando and her parents, "after a long and courageous battle with a serious illness," according to a Department of Defense Education Activity news release. She was 53 years old.
"She brought great joy and professionalism to work every day, and she was an inspiration to all who knew her," said Arnn Principal Missy Gingrich.
Torres was an educator who supported her students in many roles, such as a classroom teacher, a leader of school-wide improvement, the designer and creator of Arnn's yearbook, a Geography Bee facilitator, and countless other areas. She was especially passionate about instilling in her students a love for reading. She developed various programs to encourage students to read and spread the importance of reading throughout the school.
Torres began her 26-year career as an educator in her home state of Oklahoma. Her first teaching experience for DoDEA was at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. After the eruption of Mount Pinatubo there in 1991, she relocated to Arnn.
Torres was an integral part of the Arnn family for more than 16 years, Gingrich said. The principal mentioned that the parents of several of her students told her Torres was often referred to as the "butterfly teacher," for how she nurtured the children and helped them grow throughout each school year.
"Parents, two years before their children were to be enrolled, contacted the school saying, 'I want my child in the butterfly teacher's class,'" said Gingrich. "She was that kind of teacher and that kind of person for everything she did. It is a true loss for us here."
A memorial service for Torres was held Aug. 28 at the Arnn Information Center, where more than 70 faculty members, students and their parents were in attendance to celebrate her life and contributions to the school. The facility was renamed the Torres Information Center.
"Someone told me that Teresa used to say, 'Live your life ... if you want to do things, go out and do them,'" said Fernandez. "She was a very strong person. The school was really important to her and she was very honest and hardworking. And I miss her very much."