LHS Teacher of the Year Crystal Valencia, works to make library a safe place for students

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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LaGrange High School’s Teacher of the Year Crystal Valencia said her passion for reading is what led her to become a teacher.

“I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist,” Valencia said. “I worked at a pharmacy through college, and I have an undergraduate degree in biology. I ended up taking a year off to figure out what I wanted to do in my life, and I went back to what I loved, and that was always reading.”

LHS has co-teachers of the year, as Valencia shares the title with Misty Jo Ward. Valencia said when she found out she had won, she felt unworthy because of all of the talented people who work at the school.

“I work with so many great people,” Valencia said. “To be sharing it with her felt amazing, and I was honored.”

In deciding to become a teacher, Valencia said she wanted other people to learn to read and find joy in it as much as she does.

“The library is like a refuge. It’s a place for people to come when they don’t want to be around other people, and that’s OK,” Valencia said. “We embrace everyone here whether they’re playing chess, or they’re wanting to come read a book quietly because the cafeteria was too loud. There’s something for everyone here, and that’s what I love about my job.”

Valencia said seeing her students learn and grow has been the most fulfilling part of her job.

“Seeing these kids come in knowing they have a place to go and then getting to see them on graduation day has been rewarding,” Valencia said. “Sometimes I will see them all four years, and then I’ll get to see them get their diploma. It’s been amazing to be there for all of it.”

Valencia said the family and camaraderie at LHS have impacted her the most as an educator.

“LHS is the best family that one can have as a teacher,” She said. “They’re so accepting, and it’s just on another level. It makes you want to go to work every day to be around people that inspire you and help you. It’s really great to be a Granger.”

When Valencia is not in the library, she enjoys reading, shopping, and traveling with her husband, Fabian Valencia.

If she wasn’t teaching, Valencia said she would probably be working in computer graphics.