Paola Torres de Pereira
Academia Cotopaxi, American International School
Paola Torres de Pereira has served Academia Cotopaxi, an American International School in Quito, Ecuador, as an administrator since 2002. In various roles including director of Admission and Outreach, lower school assistant principal, early childhood principal, and now principal, Torres de Pereira has established a child-centered culture that is inclusive to students of all abilities while meeting the specific needs of expat children. She serves as the senior administrator for inclusion, overseeing the expansion of special education services while supporting instructional adjustments and increased understanding and appreciation for all learners. Among her teachers, Torres de Pereira has cultivated expertise in inquiry-driven practices that use evidence-based methods to target social and emotional learning as well as academic goals while centering student agency; as of 2014, students no longer receive traditional homework but instead engage in home-based learning through self-determined inspiration projects. Torres de Pereira is the primary founder of IMAGINE, a bilingual inclusive preschool for children ages 12 months to five years that uses child-center practices that display deep respect for each child, their personal stories, and their learning. She is active in Quito-based groups focused on disaster relief and education and holds an M.S. in Exceptional Student Education, a B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Barry University, and a Certificate of International School Leadership from the Principal’s Training Center.