Luis Eliado Torres

Although PS 55 is located in one of the poorest communities—with one of the highest recorded crime rates in the Bronx—it has an abundance of state-of-the art education assets, such as classrooms equipped with the latest technology, and full-service clinics.

The school owes its good fortune to its hardworking principal, Luis Eliado Torres, a member of Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, AFSA Local 1, who has been leading PS 55 for 12 years. His ability to fundraise and recruit sponsors successfully has helped improve his community.

“I do what I call ‘community matching.’ I look at the resources I have in the community and I match them with the school’s needs,” says Torres. “You have to hustle in a good way for your children.”

The school’s $1 million playground, SMART Tables, SMART Boards and wireless microphones in every classroom were paid for by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in collaboration with Success Academy Charter Schools, which has a school in the building.

The group Green Bronx Machine supplied the hydroponics garden where students grow vegetables. The iMacs in the school’s computer room were provided by the New York City Department of Education. The Montefiore Hospital staffs the clinic with a doctor, dentist, nurse, community health coordinator and psychologist.

“Community leaders, and businesses and organizations, are willing to give you things if you’re willing to talk and you’re willing to involve them,” says Torres.

Others have noticed his willingness to go the extra mile for students. Torres was the ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Outstanding Young Educator Award winner in 2011, and was named a 2013 New York Daily News Hometown Hero.

Although he was offered a position at another school, Torres declined. “For me, this is a calling, an opportunity to have an impact in this world. I’m a strong believer that your purpose in this world is to make it better than when you came here.”