Q&A: Mrs. Valerie Gardner

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Tori Wilkes

Q: What school did you attend?

A: “I attended Purdue University in West Lafayette.”

Q: How did you get into teaching?

A: “I needed a solid career that I could get out [of school] and get a job because my family didn’t have a lot of money, and at that time teaching was a great opportunity, especially for women.”

Q: Did anyone inspire you to go into teaching or was it a decision you made on your own?

A: “I’m a Lake Central graduate and we had a teacher here. Her name was Marcy Stump, and at the time, there weren’t a lot of female math teachers. She was just really great, and I just thought, ‘Wow I can do that.’ That’s what inspired me.”

Q: Why did you choose to teach Geometry?

A: “Geometry kind of chose me when I was offered my job. I didn’t intend to teach it, but I learned to love it.”

Q: So is Geometry your favorite subject in math?

A: I like [all types of math] but I actually really like Geometry now, and it is probably my favorite subject now that I’ve done it for 22 years.”

Q: What’s the hardest part about teaching?

A: “The hardest part of teaching right now is just the demands of paperwork because the State has so many requirements on us. We spend a lot of our time doing things that are not really teaching which is paperwork, copying our own papers, and stuff like that.”

Q: How do you balance being a teacher and a parent?

A: “You kind of have to organize your life and do as best you can to not bring things home that you don’t need to. If I do bring things home, I do them when my child’s asleep or early in the morning, and that helps me out.”

Q: What’s the best part of being a teacher?

A: “The best part of teaching is just seeing when people get it or when they say, ‘I really like your class’ or ‘I got a good grade’ or ‘I got the best grade I’ve ever gotten.’ That’s really rewarding.”