Valerie Aduba’s journey to the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame started when she was in junior high.
As an eighth-grade student at Hughes Middle School in Southern California, Valerie excelled in a range of subjects, especially math. Dr. Vickie McCloyn, a middle-school math teacher, became aware of Valerie’s academic aptitude, and saw an opportunity for Valerie to help her peers.
“Dr. McCloyn trusted me enough to be a tutor in her summer math camp when I was in eighth grade,” Valerie recalls. “She thought if there was a tutor who was the students’ age, that would be great. That’s when it all started.”
Several decades later, Valerie continues to make a difference in K-12 education. She supports a number of Sacramento-area schools as a substitute teacher with Swing Education, ensuring students have consistent access to quality instruction. The extent of her impact — across schools, grade levels, and classrooms — is why she was recently honored as a member of the inaugural class of the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame.
“She has been the most reliable substitute I have had in my five years of teaching,” says Corryn Hamakawa, a teacher at Hazel Mahone College Prep. “She follows my lesson plans and actually teaches my class. She holds them accountable for their behavior as well as following through and building relationships with parents. I trust her with my students.”
Asia Mapp, a teacher at Ephraim Williams College Prep, added, “The students always mention what she does to help them. My students feel a sense of relief knowing that Ms. V is coming because they know that they will be treated fairly. When Ms. V is there, I know the work will be given and completed. I appreciate that so much.”
Valerie’s educational turnaround
Before Valerie became a star junior-high student and tutor, and long before her induction into the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame, she had to overcome academic challenges during her younger years.
As the daughter of immigrants who worked long hours due to citizenship and financial hardships, Valerie recalls that she struggled to get the family support she needed for some of her courses.
“I couldn’t get the assistance I needed while watching my little brothers, which explains my impaired academic performance,” Valerie says.
Over time, however, with help from her family and teachers — and a large dose of dedication and perseverance – Valerie turned her academic fortunes around. She excelled in middle school and high school, earning a full-ride scholarship to college.
Now that Valerie is herself an educator, she relishes the opportunity to help her students make similar improvements. For example, during a recent long-term assignment, Valerie took notice of a student who was struggling to pick up math concepts.
“I had a student that had very low confidence in math, and I noticed that he also had a low test score,” Valerie recalls. “I made sure that I was particularly intentional with my approach to that student. One way I did this was every now and then I walked around and asked the student to teach me a math problem. And the student went from an F and got a low B on the next exam. I thought that was pretty gratifying.”
As Valerie reflects on her enshrinement into the Substitute Hall of Fame and looks forward to what’s next, she’s eager to continue to facilitate learning via a pair of guiding principles.
“Walk in with not only expectations for the students’ success, but be a new face and someone who believes in them,” Valerie says. “Also, have a good time when you can!”