NWFSC Teacher Education Alumna, BSE, Class of 2011
Wins Teacher Of The Year Award
Valerie Coleman is a teacher. She's a really good teacher. In her first year in the classroom, she was selected as the 2012 Rookie Teacher of the Year at Holly Navarre Primary School. The award, given to teachers who are in their first through third year of teaching, was a special treat because it was one selected and given by her peers.
Valerie, a 1987 graduate of Choctawhatchee High School, came to her teaching career after more than 20 years of managing the administration of Talco Awards Showcase, Inc., a family manufacturing business her father began in 1988. With a 6-year old and a 3-year old, Valerie began the quest to obtain her Associate in Arts degree from then Okaloosa Walton College and did so in May 2008. Yet, even while being in charge of the entire administration end of the family-owned business, her desire had always been to be a classroom teacher. The one thing stopping her was that the distance to other colleges offering an Education degree seemed too great to the corporate officer, wife, and mother of two daughters. So she waited.
Valerie was thrilled when she learned the college was planning to offer a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Elementary Education. The timing could not have been more perfect and driving from Navarre was manageable. She was accepted into NWFSC's first BSE class in 2009 and began the demanding task of learning how to be an effective teacher of children.
"There were so many challenges in the BSE program, so many opportunities for growth, that when I graduated and came into the classroom, I knew I could handle anything," said Coleman. She especially enjoys teaching reading and credits her NWFSC Reading Instructor, Liz Bears, with instilling in her the knowledge of the essential components of reading, the latest researched-based strategies, and researchers to follow. "Reading really is fundamental. A good reader can do so much more with other subjects because of that skill. I want all of my students to leave my classroom confident in their abilities and filled with a love of reading."
Valerie knows her NWFSC education was among the best offered in the state. With quality program administrators and instructors leading the way, she was grounded in the basics, taught to share her knowledge and talents, and walked across the stage with Honors in May 2011, a newly minted teacher at the top of her game.
"I am so grateful to NWFSC and to my instructors for the program they developed. I would not be living my dream today, working in a classroom of first graders, if it were not for them. Their passion and commitment to excellence is a model to anyone wanting to be an educator." Those are well-spoken words from the 2012 Holly Navarre Primary School Rookie Teacher of the Year.