As a child, Amanda Ortiz-Torres would line up her toys and pretend to teach them. She always knew she had a desire to become a teacher but didn’t realize her passion for mathematics or leadership until much later. In fact, it was a college professor who inspired her to even consider pursuing a math degree.
“Teaching comes so naturally to me, because that’s where my passion lies. But I was told during my high school career that I was not good in math, so I always just thought I wasn’t good at it. I was told ‘you’re female so you need to go into communications.’ In fact, I was enrolled in a remedial math class in college, but my professor spent time with me and said, ‘No, you could be a math teacher!’ I was actually the only female with a math degree in my graduating class.”
Not only did Amanda defy the messages she’d received, she was the first person in her Hispanic family to graduate with a BA, MA, and PhD. “I want every girl, every Hispanic, every child to make a difference. They can be whatever they want.”
Amanda began her career teaching math while pursuing her master’s degree. She then taught first and second grade before teaching English as a second language (ESL) to grades k-6. She began to pursue leadership roles, first serving as an ESL supervisor then overseeing the middle and high school programs for ESL implementation and instruction. Amanda then became an associate principal before taking on the role of elementary principal.
Her experience with charter schools includes being a reading interventionist, associate principal, and founding principal, immediately prior to joining NHA.
Amanda notes the last 14 years in education have really helped her grow as a leader. “In my early experiences I knew how to lead by the ‘book,’ to focus just on achievement. But my authentic leadership style is to lead with the heart. The real baseline to building academic success is getting to know your community and kids. I focus on building strong relationships with my parents, students, and staff. The bottom line is that when people know they’re valued and that they have a voice, they can move forward. Everyone wants to feel human.”
In her free time, Amanda likes to travel to Hawaii annually and spend quality time with family, especially Friday night pizza and board games. “When I transitioned to NHA, I was seeking to find a place that would value my family/work balance. It’s so essential to be involved in my own children’s lives as they grow up, as well as provide that for other parents.”
Meet Mountain View Principal Amanda Ortiz-Torres
Published: Dec 17, 2019Amber Brandt