On October 13, 2022, Jason Torres-Rangel received a call from State Superintendent Tony Thurmond informing him that he would be a State Teacher of the Year and nominated as the California teacher to represent at the National Teacher of the Year competition in 2023. This recognition came after Torres-Rangel was nominated by one of his students and won LA Unified and LA County Board of Education Teacher of the Year. He says, “I was surprised by the nomination. I didn’t expect it to come this far.”

Torres-Rangel comes from a family of teachers. His parents were math teachers for about 30 years, and his brother was a math teacher in the midwest. At one point, Torres-Rangel’s dad taught at Garfield High with Jaime Escalante, and both his parents joined the East LA walkouts. In 1986, his parents were the first in the district to share a position, and in 1989, his mom became an LA Unified teacher of the year. Torres-Rangel has a passion for social justice and has taught for nearly two decades. When he started at Roosevelt, he said, “They welcomed me into the family. It’s truly a family. It’s unique to Roosevelt.”

His interest in education began at Pomona College while studying abroad in Kenya, Africa. He was there during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was going to get pulled out for safety when he received an “outpouring of support and display of humanity” and decided to stay. He began an internship at a school and led mini-lessons on how to process significant events, influenced by the 9/11 attacks. That’s when he fully understood the power of education.

He was further motivated to pursue a master of education at Harvard University by one of his undergraduate Chicano professors, Raymond Buriel. Torres-Rangel’s teaching mantra was also inspired by his English teacher, Kathryn Konoske. He says Konoske would start her class with “Reading, writing, and speaking. We study text to find out why we’re human.” A mantra he replicates in his classroom to this day. “Every piece of literature unlocks why we’re humans,” says Torres-Rangel.

At Roosevelt, he is currently facilitating writing workshops for his colleagues in the English and Social Studies departments to better support students with their writing skills. He says that Partnership staff has been supportive, especially D’Anza Smith-Rodriguez, Director of School Transformation.

Read and learn more about Jason Torres-Rangel below: