BASTROP, Texas — School districts across Central Texas are in need of more teachers, and you don’t always have to go the traditional route to become one.
Fernanda Torres has been in Bastrop ISD schools for 22 years, but having her name above a door is something new.
"It doesn't feel, like, real still," laughed Ms. Torres. "Like, I still feel like I'm pinching myself, like, this is real."
This dream started when Ms. Torres was in a different role.
"I started in Cedar Creek Middle School as a custodian in 2000," she recalled.
Ms. Torres spent 13 years as a custodian in Bastrop ISD.
"I felt like I was teaching when I was a custodian," joked Ms. Torres. "Like, 'Make sure you do your homework.' You know, those kind of things."
She is still showing that same care for kids, but now as a first-grade teacher.
When she was a custodian, she started taking classes at Austin Community College and then went on to get her teaching degree from Western Governors University.
She was working full-time with three kids, all while going to school for eight years to reach her goals. She graduated with a teaching degree this past December.
"I did my student teaching here and they called me right away, like just, 'You can stay here and work here,'" said Ms. Torres. "And I'm like, 'Yeah, I love it!'"
Throughout her training, it was obvious to others that she was the perfect fit for the job.
"She was hardworking, she was kind, she is good for children," said Laura Faircloth, the principal of Bluebonnet Elementary. "Easily could have seen then that teaching was going to come for her."
Principal Faircloth said this is just the start of the journey for Ms. Torres.
"Next year, she'll be a first-grade bilingual teacher," said Principal Faircloth. "She'll be teaching our Spanish-dominant students."
Now, Ms. Torres is helping kids grow in a new way, in her own classroom. She hopes her journey can show others that it is never too late to find your calling.
"Just not giving up like, you know, set up your mind. This is what I'm going to do," said Ms. Torres.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: