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Meet Kia Valentine from Barnwell 45’s District Teacher of the Year

Kia is a fine arts teacher at Barnwell Primary School. She is an inspiration to students and teachers alike. Here is a little piece of Kia’s story!

“I adore seeing my students tell their individual stories through their artistic creations. Because of the diversity in ages, ethnicities, family dynamics, learning styles, and talents of the children I teach they each bring a different perspective to their work. It amazes me to see the various outcomes of a project and how the students become confident in being individually unique.

It wasn’t until I was in college pursuing a degree in dance that I realized I wanted to be a teacher. Several unfortunate knee injuries caused me to have to rethink my career path as a performer. I reflected on many conversations I had with my dance professors and how there was a strong need for artists to return to their local communities to share their passion for the arts with the younger generation. If not, there would be a possibility of the arts simply dying away. I knew then, that my calling was to go back to that “village” that raised me. Do everything in my power to educate not only the children, but the entire community about the benefits that the arts bring to our lives.

The hardest part of my job is the exhaustion that attacks me at about 3:30 p.m. every day. It hits like a ton of bricks. By that time, I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, and I still must go home to meet the demands that come with being a wife, mother and daughter. Oddly, it is through the experience of that exhaustion that I feel validated. It brings me pure satisfaction in knowing that I have poured out my all for my students.

My favorite part of the day is greeting each class and individual student at my door as they enter. It’s my hope that my smile and positive attitude will give them a secure feeling and ignite excitement about the class. It gives them a chance to leave “everything” at the door and know that every time they enter my room, it’s a new beginning. Plus, I love the smiles, hugs, high-fives, and fist bumps.

To those who have even the smallest desire of becoming a teacher, I would say, “GO FOR IT! Our children need you!” Then, be positive, collaborate, be flexible, and, most importantly, look for the humor in every situation.”

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