By Lynn Palacios, Instructional Coach, Barry Goldwater High School
As cities, neighborhoods and families continue to reel from the effects of COVID-19, we have witnessed the important and wide-ranging roles schools play in our communities. Schools educate, feed, support and strengthen our kids, and thereby our families, our neighborhoods, and our cities.
Barry Goldwater High School (BGHS) takes its responsibility to serve this community seriously, whether in response to a national crisis or in response to the normal daily needs of our students and families. As part of the Bulldog PACK (Pride, Accountability, Courage, Kindness), our staff works tirelessly to ensure our students’ needs are met and that they have opportunities to learn, be challenged, explore their interests and abilities, and flourish.
Our English Language Arts department has no shortage of dedicated, creative, diverse, and compassionate faculty. Meet three of them: Ronda McWhortor, Erika Torres, and Cynthia Fioramonti.
Ronda McWhortor has taught at BGHS for 32 years. She teaches IB English 7-8 (where students can earn college credit), MYP English 1-2, and English 1-2, and coaches the Improv Club and the Speech and Debate Team. Her adventurous spirit has taken her all over this country and to a few others, and has taken her parasailing, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning and on many roller coasters. She is co-director of the ELA department and regularly mentors student teachers from colleges and universities in the state.
Erika Torres, in her second year teaching at BGHS, is driven by her passion to help others and to see students experience that “lightbulb moment” when something finally clicks for them. She teaches English 1-2 and IB English 5-6, along with co-sponsoring the G-Crew mentoring program and National Honor Society. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, and loves being at BGHS. Torres hopes to help students reach their full potential so they can be contributing members of society, able to navigate their circumstances, and demonstrate PACK in their own lives. Her classroom provides them an opportunity to witness and to demonstrate safety, accountability and respect.
Cynthia Fioramonti has taught for 42 years, but has only been at BGHS for two years. She taught for 30 years in Illinois before moving to Arizona. She strives to help students become “lifelong learners, who are productive members of society.” Fioramonti teaches English 1-2 and COM100 – Introduction to Human Communications. Like similar courses at BGHS, students in COM100 can earn college credit through a partnership with Rio Salado Community College. She believes opportunities like Dual Enrollment help to “demystify” college for teens; they can say to themselves, “I’ve already successfully passed a college class, so I know I can do this.” Fioramonti is proud of the work she and her ELA colleagues do, especially in the face of unprecedented challenges, “offering to our kids, as we always have, stability and consistency in our encouragement and support of them and their endeavors.”