Teacher of the Week: Valerie Prescott

Teacher of the Week: Valerie Prescott

Meet 22-year education veteran VALERIE PRESCOTT, who recently finished teaching her fifth-graders at Champaign's Barkstall Elementary a powerful, two-week unit about the Holocaust.

Here's more about the self-described "huge Yoda fan" from staff writer Lyndsay Jones:

My passion for teaching about the Holocaust dates back to ... when I was a student teacher at Westview Elementary School. My cooperating teacher, Spencer Landsman, encouraged me to teach this topic, and I was amazed at the compassion and empathy that fifth-graders had for the topic. I felt that by teaching children what happened and by teaching them this, it could keep this from happening this again someday.

The most rewarding part about teaching this subject is ... reading the poems they write from the unit and seeing the paintings they create. They all tell a special story of what that child has learned and how they feel about it.

The classroom supplies I can't live without are ... watercolor paint, paint brushes, canvas for painting.

As far as all of that memorabilia on my shelf depicting a certain 'Star Wars' character ... I'm a Yoda enthusiast. I went to the first opening night of "Star Wars" in 1977. Then, I became a huge Yoda fan. I think a lot of it was that I saw so much truth in what he said. I read them to the kids. I always tell my kids: "May the Force be with you" whenever they have a test or something challenging to work on.

My biggest teaching inspiration is ... my dad. I really did used to teach to my bears as a kid — I'd line them up and teach to them because I saw what my dad was doing. It was the good relationships he built with his students that made me who I am today. That's my number-one priority as a teacher today.

My favorite summertime activities involve ... my 13-year-old dog, Sadie Jane, whom I love to spend time with. I have a 27-year-old daughter, so I love mommy-daughter time. I love the outdoors, so I do love camping. But hands down, spending time with my dog. We've done so much together.

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