Vanessa Valdes has been awarded a 2017 Laura E. Settle Scholarship. The scholarship was established to honor Laura Settle, founder of the California Retired Teachers Association and president of the association from 1929–1945. Scholarships are awarded to those candidates with excellent academic performance, exemplary character and citizenship, and demonstrated potential to become outstanding teachers.
Vanessa Valdes is a teacher credential candidate in the UCI Master of Arts in Teaching program, working toward her credentials in art and social science. Her interests focuses on AP Art History and World History. This spring she has been student teaching at Corona del Mar High School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Vanessa Valdes Personal Statement
A few weeks within moving to Boston, I listened intently to everyone I met and developed invaluable relationships with people from all walks of life who shaped my philosophy and life path. My parents and mentors also engrained in me this mentality of setting goals for myself and working hard for them while remembering to show integrity, respect, and kindness to the people around me—a tenet in my philosophy of life. I realized, then, that I would commit myself to life-long learning. Having received encouragement and inspiration from the teachers in my life, I hope that I can pass that on and help young people find something that excites them, or something with which they can deeply identify.
After years of encouragement by former teachers and mentors, I am proud to say that I took the initiative to apply to UCI’s MAT and Credential program two years ago, and I got in! Currently, I am wrapping-up a full year of student teaching at my alma mater, and every day, I am thankful to be a part of this community with incredibly bright, fun, and compassionate people. This past year has been extraordinary for me. Significant experiences that stand out include learning from and observing educators whom I deeply respect and developing meaningful relationships with the students in my classes. One surprise for me is my newfound joy and commitment to working with students who struggle with literacy. I am a staunch civil warrior who cares deeply for young people and introducing them to inclusive learning and teaching practices because I was one of those students who struggled in school with reading comprehension and processing: I lived it, and I get it. The teachers who really took the time to challenge me in my growth and help support me are the ones whom I remember most positively. They never gave up on me, and with their help, I graduated among the top students in my class. Today, I, too, am devoted to helping students set high expectations for themselves and following-through with them as they proceed into the next great chapters of their lives.
Since entering the MAT program at UCI, I have gained priceless knowledge and skills from our faculty with their expertise, sound methodology, quality student preparation, and yearlong site apprenticeship. Particularly, I feel that this program is preparing me well for inclusive teaching, which approaches the practice from the perspective of an equity-oriented and student-centered instruction to meet the needs of every student. Though it is challenging to be “all-inclusive” in classroom practices when there are so many micro-decisions to think about, working with students gives me purpose and joy daily. I am excited to work with young people and devote my life to inclusive teaching. In the coming years, I look forward to learning more about how I can best support my students and help with their academic and personal growth. My goal is to help bring out the best in them, help them to find themselves, and help them to make sense of themselves and the world around them.
Below: Vanessa Valdes and Single Subject Coordinator Sue Vaughn