It’s often hard to catch Eduardo Torres during the school year.
Torres, Woodrow Wilson’s principal, can usually be found dashing through the spotless, trophy-lined hallways of the high school among what he probably loves the most about his job – the students.
Though operating a school may seem hectic, Torres – walkie-talkie in hand – often finds things orderly, calm and under control. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
It became policy during his first year that he and other administrators would be in the hallway during class breaks so students could see them.
His business cards give his home phone number. It is important, he says, that students know there is always someone there for them.
“I believe this job was a calling,” Torres says. “I have never before heard such depressing stories from some of these students about the tough lives they lead. Many are tragic.”
As Torres dashes past a student, the freshman’s frown turns to a smile.
“He’s a little strict,” says Lee Compton of the new principal, “but what he is doing is good.”
That seems to be a common comment from students and parents since Torres took the reigns of Woodrow.
The numbers say it all. Out of 18 DISD high schools, Woodrow Wilson finished with respectable rankings this year. A sampling: third in Biology, fifth in Calculus, and fourth in Physics.
At least 500 students made the honor role each six weeks, which Torres says is fantastic. Graduates this year include two National Merit Scholars, and others have been accepted to Princeton, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame and University of Texas.
“But even if it is Dallas Community College, the important thing is the kids go to college…and that they enjoy it,” he says.
Torres believes his greatest achievement during his debut year was implementing a new class schedule, an idea conceived by members of the community. Rather than the traditional seven class periods, each day consists of four periods. Students take eight core classes, rotating four one day and four the next. It gives students and teachers more class time.
“Because this is a site-base management school, the community is very involved in the education of all students,” Torres says. “They have directed these scheduling changes, which some have resisted. But change is good if it is for the kids, and we have to go for it.”
Torres points to the office tropy case full of current awards for swimming, basketball and golf, citing the no pass-no play rule.
“This makes me quite proud that not only are our kids doing well academically, they are also excelling in sports,” he says.
Torres, the oldest of six boys, was born in Harlingen, Texas. He says his childhood was a close-knit family environment, and the most influential person was an uncle who is a Catholic priest.
A wooden plaque from this uncle sits on a mantle in Torres’ office. It reads: “Haz Todo Con Amor” (Do It With Love), Torres’ life philosophy and a saying that his mother and uncle repeated to him as a child.
And that is exactly how Torres approaches his job. He spends about five hours every six weeks writing personal notes of inspiration – or condemnation – to his student body on their report cards.
“Because I am unmarried, without children, I have enough time to devote to making these students successful,” he says.
Next year, he plans to institute a pod – or umbrella – policy wherein teachers will work together as special liaisons for groups of ninth-graders.
“I will give the teachers every opportunity, short of cheating and murder, to make sure these kids have every opportunity for a good education,” he says.
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