Flores first started teaching at Waite in 1999.
Through a series of other’s missteps and his misfortune—mainly
involving union teacher bumping rights—Flores found himself
moved to temporary teaching assignments at other schools and
eventually laid off, forced from the classroom altogether last
“It was a domino effect,” he said. “And I was the last domino to
While he waited for another Toledo Public Schools teaching
assignment to open up, Flores spent several months as the
Upward Bound academic skills coordinator at Lourdes
University, continuing much of the mentoring work he did
there as a volunteer. He’ll continue to tutor and work with
students in that program, as well as advise the Latino
Student Union on campus. In fact, Flores and his Upward
Bound students volunteered this past weekend for a diabetes walk
at Ottawa Park.
Upward Bound provides support to high school students from
low-income families in their preparation for college entrance.
In many cases, the students are the first in their families to
attend college. The ultimate goal of Upward Bound is to increase
the rate at which participants complete secondary education and
enroll in and graduate from institutions of higher education.
“First and foremost, I’m an educator before I’m a Spanish
teacher. When you look at it from that standpoint, I look at my
purpose as educator not just teaching Spanish, but to help my
students grow holistically,” he said. “From a community service
standpoint, to grow as people, have heightened expectations of
what they can do in life in terms of pursuing a higher
education. I’m going to do everything I can to facilitate that,
whether that’s taking them to college fairs or community service
projects on the weekends.”
While Flores believes in helping all students, Latino kids tend
to especially gravitate toward him as a mentor and role model.
The 37-year old single father always has related well to teens.
“I think over the years, being one of the only Latino teachers
there, being a Latino male, students are looking for that
support,” he said.
“I do advise a Spanish club that is a diverse club in general.
But when it comes to the Latino cause at Waite, I’m generally
the person who facilitates whatever it is—a field trip or a
Cinco de Mayo program. Of course I do have help from other
teachers who we work together to make sure things are happening.
I don’t turn away any student who wants or seeks help. But I’m
definitely an advocate for Latino students at Waite,” Flores
The Waite Spanish teacher has been at the high school just long
enough to now be ingrained as a part of many Latino families in
“I’ve taught whole groups of siblings. I had the oldest sibling
in the earliest part of my career and now I have the babies 10,
11 years later,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been an awesome
experience. I’ve gotten to know families—and of course, with
Latino culture, it’s all about the family. I’ve gotten to know
parents, I go to quinceañeras all the time for my
students and graduation parties and incorporate my daughter into
That same sense of family led Flores to reluctantly resign from
Lourdes University when TPS called him back to work. He had to
think about providing for his daughter Paula, now in the fifth
grade. But he had warned Lourdes when hired that his layoff
status may only be temporary.
“Based on the fact of what had happened at TPS before, but you
have to do what’s best for your family and ultimately, in the
classroom is where I belong,” he said. “It was somewhat of a
no-brainer to come back, especially given the fact I was going
to be able to return to Waite.”
Flores is well-known in the community for helping with virtually
every Latino cause, agency, and organization. But he openly
admits “taking a step back” last year so he could finish a
Master’s degree at Bowling Green State University and be
more active with his daughter and her sports activities. Flores
did his undergraduate work at the University of Toledo.
“Sometimes saying ‘no’ to others is saying ‘yes’ to yourself and
your family,” he said.
But Flores will still be visible “among our staples,” as he put
it. He’ll continue to volunteer at the Sofia Quintero Art and
Cultural Center for the Día de los Muertos
celebration (Nov. 3) and helped with the recent Barrio Latino
Art Festival (Sept. 22, 2012).