For first-year teacher Aracely Flores, the road that led to the classroom equipped her to thrive not only as an educator, but also as an advocate and frontline hero. With 20 years of experience in the medical field under her belt, Flores is familiar with the demands of the frontline.

“You have to have the ability to put others before you, to be a caregiver and be dependable,” says Flores. “As a medical field worker, it was all about the patient. The patient was first. In that sense, it’s the same thing here. Students come first, and as professionals we have to be able to provide that safe, nurturing environment so that they can come and have fun learning.” 

Flores began serving in the medical field as a high school student while attending a health-focused magnet school. Over her two decades of service, Flores gained experience in a wide variety of roles, from physical therapy and patient care to medical administration. 

It wasn’t until her own family grew and her children began attending school that Flores was drawn to the classroom and reminded of the special impact that teachers had on her. She recalls her own third-grade teacher making a life-changing impact on her life.  

“I come from a first-generation immigrant family, and when I was in elementary school I was really quiet. But my third grade ELAR teacher took me under her wing,” says Flores. “We stayed in touch until she passed a few years ago, but throughout my whole life she was my mentor. I feel like I was one of those success stories because of her.”

After several years of serving as a dedicated volunteer and guest educator at her children’s school, Flores was determined to fulfill her calling as a teacher and began classes to gain her teaching certification. Now, Flores is determined to be a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of her students.  

“It’s so easy for me to place myself in their shoes because of my background,” says Flores. “I tell [my students] that I want to be that teacher who helps them to grow and overcome. I carry that in my heart because of what [my teacher]did for me.” 

With nearly half of her first year done, Flores couldn’t be happier. Despite the significant challenges that all teachers are facing this year, Flores is confident that she is exactly where she needs to be. 

“I told my husband that I never imagined that I would be in the education field. But it’s my calling,” says Flores. “It’s not even work for me, it’s a part of me. It’s a blessing to be here and be part of Irving [ISD].”