Meet Carolyn Torres

I am running for the Santa Ana Unified School District school board because I understand education, I understand Santa Ana, and I love my community.  I have worked in schools for over 15 years beginning in afterschool programs, as a mentor, as a tutor, and as a classroom teacher. As a current 7th grade teacher, I know first hand what students, teachers, staff, and parents experience.

Being in the classroom means that my daily life is school. It means that I spend my days thinking about how to reach students, how to build relationships with parents, and how to collaborate with teachers, staff and administration in order to have a strong, community-centered school experience for all of us.My family has deep roots in Santa Ana. They migrated from Tucson, Arizona in the early 1900s to California and by the 1920s  made their way to Santa Ana. My grandmother went to Fremont Elementary, during the 1930s when it was a segregated Mexican school, before the historic Mendez v. Westminster court decision, and she is still resides in Santa Ana.

My father and his siblings went to Santa Ana High School from the 1960s to the 1980s. I was the first person in my family to graduate high school, graduate from college and earn a Master’s degree. I had to do this with no guidance but fortunately a lot of emotional support from my sisters and cousins. I became an aunt at 11 and was the go-to person regarding my nieces and nephews education. I saw how much some of them struggled in school and it taught me about the kind of educator I wanted to be. It taught me how schools can either be a positive place, a safe space from home or a negative place, a place where you are not valued as a person.

I am also an experienced researcher. I have a Master’s in Education, Urban Emphasis from Cal State Long Beach. I specialized in analyzing schooling systems, as well as formal and informal education. My thesis titled “Grassroots in Santa Ana: Conceptualizing Identity and Community,” gives a history of Santa Ana, as well as highlights the role of schools in developing a strong sense of self and how people decide they want to make positive change in their communities. As a long time community activist, I have advocated for youth and parents in understanding their rights and have helped them navigate schooling and government systems. As an educator, I have coordinated and ran professional development institutes about how to develop curriculum and teaching strategies that create a welcoming, safe and affirming class environment where teachers can teach and students can learn.

My community is Santa Ana. My community is you. I know our struggles and our  beauty. I know our needs and our accomplishment. I know where we are doing things well and where we can grow. As a school board member, I will continue to advocate for Santa Ana to have schools that students, parents and the community deserves.