By Mary-Justine Lanyon
Torri Burke, the new assistant principal at Rim of the World High School, has called Crestline home for most of her life.
Although she grew up on the mountain, because her mother was a math teacher at Arroyo High School in San Bernardino, Burke attended school down the hill. She chose Arroyo as her high school so she could play water polo.
Burke had a lifelong fascination with marine life and so majored in marine biology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she also received her teaching credential. She started her teaching career in Santa Maria, where she taught biological and life sciences, as well as AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination).
Putting her high school experience to use, Burke also coached water polo, as well as cross country and swimming.
After a decade up north, Burke felt the pull of the mountain communities. “Being in San Luis Obispo made me appreciate the beauty of nature and, when I realized it was time to plant roots somewhere, I knew I wanted to come back to the mountains.
“The community, the central location, the amazing landscapes and activities the mountain has to offer makes this place one of a kind and you can’t find it anywhere else. There’s no place like home,” Burke said.
And so, while she was interviewing for a teaching position in Hesperia, Burke started looking at homes in her home town. What she found, amazingly enough, was a home on the street where she grew up, just two houses down from her old home – where her mother still lives.
Burke had an eye to the future and was considering moving out of the classroom into administration. She earned her administration credential from Cal State San Bernardino and started the application process for their master’s program in educational administration. “I did it out of curiosity,” Burke said, “and didn’t complete the application.”
That did not deter the program coordinator, who called her with the news that she had been accepted. She is one quarter away from receiving that degree. Burke also holds a master’s degree in science education from Western Governors University.
When Burke saw the posting for the assistant principal position at Rim High, she jumped at the chance to apply.
Asked if she misses the classroom, Burke said what she misses is bantering with the students. “I miss being immersed with the students but this is much more my pace,” she noted. She loves having a “to do” list and loves when the students come to her, asking for something, and she can support them.
With three weeks of school under her belt, Burke describes the Rim students as “genuine and they have kind hearts. They are responsible and honest. Even when they make mistakes, they are quick to apologize.
“The staff is amazing,” Burke continued. “I am excited to have such a passionate and dedicated staff to work with. Many of the teachers go above and beyond for their students and show concern for the students and their well-being.”
Burke’s responsibilities include overseeing AVID for the district, being responsible for school site safety, helping with various departments and overseeing all assessments. In addition, she will share responsibility for school discipline and special education with Mariano Aranda, the other assistant principal.
Burke looks forward to becoming involved in the community, saying she wants to volunteer as much as she can. “I already go to community events around the mountain and try to support local businesses as much as possible.”
In addition, she said, she has become involved with the Rim of the World Educational Foundation, which welcomes her AVID expertise.
When she is not in her office or out in the community volunteering, Burke enjoys being outside – hiking, camping and climbing. She loves being in or on the water, whether it’s at the beach or by the lake. And she enjoys travel abroad.