Who is Nicole Torres?
Greeting everyone! I am Nicole, a high school junior from Miami, Florida. My parents are Peruvian immigrants and I was born here in the Sunshine state. I love to learn new things and I am very passionate about education. Ever since I was little, I would recall playing “teacher” with my parents. They would sit patiently in front of me, as I taught them English using my whiteboard and markers. I was always very passionate about learning and mastering everything that was taught to me. As I grew older, my little sister was born and was the perfect student that loved to follow my footsteps. In the summers, we would spent endless days playing school. My sister would put on a backpack and sit in her desk as I taught her how to dance, write, speak French, and so much more. I always pushed myself to take advantage of the opportunities that are accessible in school. I am currently 16 years old, a 4.0 GPA student, have taken 6 Aps, speak 3 languages, have over 500 hours of community service not including Learn to Express, and involved in numerous clubs like PTSA, Model UN, French Honor Society, Women of Tomorrow and many more.
June 17th, 2020 marks the start of Learn to Express, a community service organization dedicated to empowering expression and education to create an outlet of creativity and innovation. I am the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Express. I started this community service organization during the pandemic that astronomically hit the world this year. After being stuck in quarantine, I knew I had to get into action to do something to help my community. During the month of March, I created a Facebook page to inform parents that I would be giving tutoring sessions for free to any kid who was interested. I collected 8 kids from my community and started tutoring each of them personally in their core classes like Reading, Math, and Writing. 4 of those kids were excelling in their classes so I decided to teach them things that they didn’t learn in school like French and the importance of Speech. I had fun teaching these children and watching them slowly grow in their studies. After two months of tutoring these students, I decided to brainstorm ideas of what I could do to help a larger span of kids. That is when Learn to Express came to light. I knew that an organization like this one could illuminate the lives of parents and children, serving as a free resource to keep children productive and enlighten their minds during summer in quarantine. Of course, I told my parents and they were 100% supportive of the idea. In the next 2 days, I got to work—made the website, Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and applications for Express Instructors and Express Learners. The following days I shared the applications with theand informed them of my mission. The NSHSS Slack Chat was helpful to share my mission with intellectual and caring students who had an interest in helping the community.
Learn to Express: Summer Program 2020…
After a successful round of applicants, 10 qualified volunteers were chosen to be Express Instructors. It was then time to promote our program to as many parents as possible. I began with sharing the program with my mom who shared it with her friends, church, neighbors, and more. My parents were super helpful in sharing the organization with their friends and it truly helped us spread the word quicker. Then I reached out to a friend who became the Assistant Director and shared the organization with her parents’ friends. At first it was quite difficult to reach out to parents but slowly more parents found out about us. I would continue to have hope and posted flyers in Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, and YouTube to let parents know we are a credible organization. Our summer program started July 6th 2020 and ran for a month. Our Summer Program offered 23 “expression” classes for Elementary and Middle School students like Writing, Dance, Art, Piano, Singing, Dance, Step, Theater, and more. At the end of the program we received wonderful commentary from the parents and the instructors. I was super excited about the positive and successful outcome that the Summer Program received that I decided to start a Fall Program.
I would say it would be substituting or swinging by classes seeing how interested the children were in learning. Seeing their happy faces and the interactions they had with the Express Instructor and other children. I loved it when they asked questions, made song suggestions, or just shared how their day was, since it showed the community we had built with the Summer Program.
Fall Program and future goals…
Our fall program is going to be bigger and will offer more resources to parents and students. We will continue having free expression classes but this year we will be adding free tutorings in Math, Science, and Reading for kids to enroll in. I wanted to offer tutorings because in these difficult times, virtual learning can be quite difficult for many children to grasp. The Learn to Express team has now expanded and we are now offering positions to volunteer and get involved. If one is a high school or college student, one can apply to be an Express Instructor, Brand Ambassador, and other positions that can be found in our website and Social Media Handles. We welcome all those interested to apply and would love to hear their ideas because I have learned that success comes from ideas and acting on those ideas. Our links to apply can be found in our Instagram and Facebook @learntoexpress. I hope for Learn to Express to become a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in order to create bigger projects in the future and continue helping the community. Something important I have learned is that dreams can come true with hardwork, passion, strength, positivity, and most importantly perseverance.
Follow Learn to Express on Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Youtube: @learntoexpress
PS: Always remember: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”-Nelson Mandela and “Anything is possible if you just believe”-Dulara Perera
Thank you for reading!
Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Express