2021 A.O.Y. Finalist - Kimberly Llorens

Meet Kimberly Llorens

School Director, University Preparatory Academy Elementary - Mark Murray Campus 

Kimberly has been an educator since 1985, following in the footsteps of teachers that greatly influenced her life. She didn't miss a beat moving from the front of the classroom to the administrative offices, even helping open the Mark Murray elementary campus. As the leader of her building, she wants her staff and students to have a place that they feel at home and part of the "crew" that Uprep is famous for. She expects her students to constantly improve and works individually with educators to set expectations. The goal is for students that leave Mark Murray to feel the same way she did in school - seeing someone who looks like them being successful. 

A headshot of 2021 AOY finalist, Kimberly Llorens.
A headshot of 2021 AOY finalist, Kimberly Llorens.
A headshot of 2021 AOY finalist, Kimberly Llorens.

How do you live out your school's mission?

I see myself in our students, parents, and staff. When a parent comes to me concerned about their child’s social and emotional well-being, I offer experiences I had with my own children. I share with families the struggles we faced when we realized our own child needed help. I recall the agony of realizing I could not do the job alone and the relief when his doctor shared that while it might not seem so in the moment, we had indeed taken the first step and relief again as I shared information with his teacher. Being vulnerable allows parents to see me as a partner; an equal. When a teacher is frustrated and seemingly at the end of their rope when they don’t know what next strategy to try and they question “if they’re good enough”; I tell them that when they stop questioning is when it might be time to consider other opportunities for their talents. I also tell them I don’t have all the answers and that each child, each year, each class is different. When a student is struggling through a math assignment, I share my own struggles with learning my multiplication facts and the dread I felt as I tried to avoid the teacher calling on me. I share these stories with our students because I know they matter. Our students need to understand that all the adults in our building were once like them. Our school’s vision states that each member of our community; teacher, student, parent, principal is called to focus on leading and learning. This is how each of us lives out the mission.

What do you do to generate community involvement?

We have forged strong relationships with multiple community partners. Our relationship with the Detroit Police Department, 3rd Precinct, is long-established. During the pandemic, they have served as guest speakers at two of our monthly parent meetings. They participated in our Harvest Fest by providing and distributing treats to students alongside our staff. They have joined our All School Crew meetings to discuss strong work habits with students and the importance of staying focused on studies. Prior to the pandemic, officers often visited our school as guests in classrooms, served as coaches for our co-ed basketball team, held workshops for parents and students, and included our students in community service projects to honor fallen officers. This partnership has remained strong throughout the years. The community resource officers knew that our school was open to them; sometimes to just be in the presence of young people, sometimes to join us for monthly celebrations, and sometimes just to check in. Officer Dale Dorsey often comments on the reprieve he receives just by thinking of the promise of young people.

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