Position: Special Education Teacher
School: Cedar Chapel Special School
School District: Worcester County Public Schools
City, State: Snow Hill, MD
Music that Describes Valerie
Valerie Blevins was nominated by her colleague, Olivia Peuser.
Mrs. Blevins, also known as "Ms. Val," is a special education teacher for severely handicapped students at Cedar Chapel Special School. She has taught for 21 years. Ms. Val didn’t start college until the age of 43. She was an at-home daycare provider for ten years when her three children were younger. Starting at Wor-Wic Community College and continuing at Wilmington University, Ms. Val earned her undergraduate degree in middle level education. Even with a full time job and family, she continued to pursue her education. Ms. Val earned a double Master's degree in special education and reading specialist.
Ms. Val has been active in her community as a 4-H leader and a Sunday School teacher. Ms. Val advocates for her students, whether she's at an IEP meeting or in the classroom. She knows each student’s interests and how to reach them. She modifies concepts in order to ensure successful understanding of the topic. Ms. Val makes a difference in the lives of her students, spending time with each one and challenging their abilities. The students are encouraged to be independent. Every Monday, Ms. Val presents a cooking lesson for the students to participate in. Other functional skills are emphasized on a daily basis.
Ms. Val is always there for her students, providing what they need. Whenever her students are hungry, she feeds them. She often buys clothes and school supplies for her students. Creativity is one of Ms. Val’s traits, as she tries multiple ways to reach her students. She likes to have fun with her students and the school in general. Her students are included in everything. On Halloween, they dressed up as puppies from the 101 Dalmatians, and she was a striking Cruella de Vil! Whether they're decorating a door for the holiday or Super Hero Day, Ms. Val’s students are all in! She is totally committed to her students and careful to not miss time from school. She enjoys their company and likes to be there.
Ms. Val is a leader within her school, serving as a mentor to student interns. She is available in and out of the classroom to help. There are two paraprofessionals in the classroom, and Ms. Val continually communicates with them. The paraprofessionals are included in the daily plans and are respected for their involvement. Ms. Val has an excellent performance rating and is well respected by her peers and supervisors.
In addition to her demanding class schedule, Ms. Val also grows and maintains the school garden. The flowers grown there were given out for Mother’s Day.
Ms. Val became interested in special education because one of her sons had a learning disability all throughout his school years. While working with the teachers who helped her son, she realized that this was what she wanted to do. Helping others is Ms. Val’s main focus. She gets things done and doesn’t get discouraged, even with difficult behaviors demonstrated in the classroom. Ms. Val even skips her lunch or planning period to sit with a distraught student. She is very patient, and she always follows proper protocol for behaviors.
Ms. Val not only does all this, but she also runs a farm, raises chickens, and owns a market called “Twin Oak Farms.” Homemade jams, relish, bread and pies are a few of the items she makes for the market. She juggles both roles without compromising her competency at school.
"If anyone deserves this recognition, Ms. Val does," said Peuser. "It’s my honor to work beside her daily and to call her a friend. I appreciate her warmth and encouragement, and I strive to be like her!"