GMSP: Kindergarteners love Educator of the Month Mabel Valenzuela

April 19, 2013
Santa Paula News

A dedicated teacher who especially loves her kindergarteners was honored as the Educator of the Month at the April Good Morning Santa Paula.

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored monthly breakfast meeting was held at Garman’s Pub in the historic Downtown. Vice Mayor Rick Cook and Councilman Martin Hernandez also attended.

Thelma Bedell Elementary School Principal Jeff Robinson said teacher Mabel Valenzuela was selected for the educator honor “for many different reasons... she’s a kindergarten teacher, that kind of says it right there. They’re a special breed all their own.”

Robinson said teaching is a “difficult task as it is,” and a heavily responsible one. And that is especially true when placed in charge of 22 or more students just starting their formal education, “many popping up” with enthusiasm.

During a visit to Valenzuela’s class, Robinson observed the students “all sitting on her carpet, focused on her and what she says. Mabel has this routine that keeps the children engaged” and enthusiastic about learning.

A teacher at Bedell for almost a dozen years, Robinson said Valenzuela was recruited from a Ventura school to join the Santa Paula Elementary School District. She started teaching kindergarteners at Blanchard Elementary, and at one point “wanted a little change,” so Robinson said Valenzuela switched to a 4th grade class. It did not take her long to come back to kindergarten. 

Robinson said Valenzuela is also a valuable member of the Bedell team: “We love having her up there, she’s extremely helpful” and is dedicated to the student success teams that work with children who “might need more intervention.”

More recently Valenzuela has also been involved in a parent education program for children whose parents are English language learners. Robinson said the program “helps the parents be a part of their child’s education... many of those families do not feel comfortable,” but Valenzuela works with them on activities and programs that allow them to be comfortably involved in their child’s education. 

“In kindergarten every day is fun,” due to the daily enthusiasm of the children, said Valenzuela. “When you walk in the room the kids notice everything about you and each other, and everything is exciting,” from a new hairdo to new nail polish to a classmate’s jacket.

“Every day is an adventure for the kids, they learn something they’re excited... they met Superintendent Dr. Paul Chounet” when he visited their classroom and the students were delighted, “they love it.... That,” added Valenzuela, “is what I love about the job.”

And that includes working with parents: “I’m so excited to see the parents with the kids, give them activities they can do with the student, they are so excited” to become a part of their child’s education. “Santa Paula is such a small community,” and Valenzuela said with the focus of the parents and children working together on their language skills it brings the community even closer together.  

With all its joys, Valenzuela said teaching kindergarten “takes so much of your energy,” so when she had her own child she decided to teach 4th grade. “But,” she added, “I went back to kindergarten, that’s my heart.”

Good Morning Santa Paula Moderator Ben Schuck asked Valenzuela if her students “tell you they love you?”

“All the time,” said Valenzuela, not unexpected from youngsters who believe and say “everything is so beautiful, you’re so beautiful.” 

“It’s clear the children do love you and you inspire them to do their best,” said Schuck, who urged Valenzuela to display the Teacher of the Month Award in her classroom. “They’ll ask you about the award and you tell them you deserve it because you love them.”

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