School district’s instruction director to retire
Calling it the hardest decision of her life, Amy Torrens-Harry, Quincy School District’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessments, said she will leave the district at the end of the school year and retire.
Torrens-Harry, a breast cancer survivor, has been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer that has metastasized to her bones and her liver.
“I was diagnosed six years ago with stage 3 breast cancer,” she said. “After six years, they felt comfortable it was gone, and then in October, I had a pain in my side and it turned out to be cancer in my rib and after they did more exploration, it was in my liver as well.”
She added that her last mammogram had occurred a month earlier, and had shown no traces of cancer.
Torrens-Harry was hired last summer, coming to Quincy after 21 years at the Tahoma School District, near Tacoma.
“My commitment to Quincy is so real, was so real, and to leave after a year is just disappointing,” Torrens-Harry said.
Originally from Montesano, 40 miles west of Olympia, Torrens-Harry came to QSD with a doctorate in educational leadership from Washington State University and a master’s in educational administration from Western Washington University.
At the time of her hire, she was assistant director of teaching and learning at Maple Valley’s Tahoma School District, where she had also served as principal and assistant principal.
With weekly chemotherapy sessions every Friday, it’s hard to maintain a full-time schedule, Torrens-Harry said. She started chemotherapy on Nov. 9, with triple doses every three weeks.
“That’s likely my future to keep it at bay as long as possible,” she said, adding that it takes her three days to recover from the chemo.
“I feel pretty good Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then I do it again on Friday,” she said.
A bit of good news for Torrens-Harry is that she is on the verge of becoming a citizen of the Quincy Valley. She had been living with her mom in Wenatchee and has now made an offer for a property in Crescent Bar.
“I wanted to stay at least part-time in Quincy and I find out tomorrow if they accept my offer,” she said on Feb. 4.
Despite the grim health prognosis, she says she at least wants to finish the school year working for Quincy, and complete some of the projects she began when she took the job. Those include a revamped language-arts curriculum for 2019-2020, reconfiguring the transition from junior-high to middle school, and changing the focus of instructional coaches at the elementary level.
“I’m so proud of what Quincy is,” she said with her voice breaking. “And the people that work there and the passion they bring to their work every single day. I have been so fortunate to be part of this team. I have told both (assistant QSD superintendent) Nik (Bergman) and (QSD superintendent) John (Boyd) this is the best professional year I have ever had.”
By Sebastian Moraga, email@example.com