2021 Extraordinary Educators: Valerie Bonde
Great communities have great schools. High Point Schools Partnership creates impactful connections between our schools and the wider community to ensure students and their families are supported and can reach their full potential in High Point schools.
Part of High Point Schools Partnerships’ mission is to improve the image of our schools through storytelling. Who better to tell the stories of High Point’s schools than the people experiencing it first-hand? In this series of eight articles, we will highlight our 2021 High Point Extraordinary Educators as we dive deeper into what keeps them motivated in the face of constant challenges.
A seasoned veteran, Valerie Bonde has called Johnson Street Global Studies her home for the last 13 years of her 22-year career.
According to principal Kristina Wheat, Ms. Bonde is “often referred to as the middle school student whisperer” because of her effective communication and relationship-building strategies both with students and parents. She’s also the first to “pitch in and offer solutions and ideas to teachers who are serving our most vulnerable students.”
Johnson Street Global Studies serves children from kindergarten through eighth grade. However, Ms. Bonde wishes her students and families knew that she still worries about them even after they move on to high school. She enjoys seeing those who come back and visit her, hoping that “in some way I made a difference in their lives.”
Q: What inspired you to become an educator?
A: My love of education came from my grandmother. She grew up during the Great Depression and was forced to leave school in the 8th grade to help support her family. Because of this, she pushed me to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities made possible with a good education. This work ethic made a difference in my life and I wanted to pass it on to others. I carry these values into my classroom by teaching students that education is the key to success and that their dreams can come true if they are willing to put the work into it.
Q: What’s your teaching/leadership style?
A: I am a firm believer that you need to establish a solid relationship with your students. This relationship must be built on trust and respect. A student needs to feel that you are invested in their education and that you respect them for all they have to offer in the classroom. I also make a strong effort to build a positive relationship with all my parents. I want my families to know that in order for their child to be successful, we all need to support each other.
Q: Do you have a classroom motto or philosophy you abide by? Why?
A: As an EC teacher, my philosophy has always been that every child needs to learn how to advocate for themselves. I want my students to fully understand their accommodations and how to use those accommodations to help them achieve success in the classroom. Most importantly, I want my students to feel confident and not embarrassed when put in a situation where they may have to ask for more time to complete a task or have something read aloud to them.
Q: What’s your favorite part about every day?
A: Lunchtime is my favorite part of the day because I will often have students in my room who earned the privilege to eat lunch with Ms. Bonde. During this time, we play games and discuss events that may have occurred during the day. We come up with strategies that will help improve the rest of their day. I also utilize this time with my students who need extra support with projects. My students know that my closet is always filled with extra supplies that they may not have at home. I feel that this is the best time of day to help my students who are struggling the most.
Q: What’s your most memorable moment as an educator?
A: This past school year will be the most memorable in my career. Trying to learn how to quickly teach remotely was very stressful and overwhelming. After several hours of learning how to use canvas and other online resources, I realized that I didn’t need to wow my students with technology. I just needed to be available to my students and their families during this crisis. My students and their families relied on me not just for academic support but to be there to provide resources and emotional support during these most trying times.
When it comes to talking about Johnson Street Global Studies as a whole, Ms. Bonde says “our administration and staff have made it a priority to treat everyone who walks into our building as if they are part of a family.” This family atmosphere has allowed students and the community to thrive because everyone is there to support each other during the best and worst of times. “Our little school has touched the lives of so many.”
Johnson Street’s motto has always been “Once a Jaguar, Always a Jaguar.” Ms. Bonde hopes to be a Jaguar for the rest of her career.
Thank you so much to Valerie Bonde for your dedication to High Point’s students. Congratulations on being selected as your school’s 2021 Extraordinary Educator!
Article written by High Point Schools Partnership Staff