Staff Spotlight: Claudia Valencia


Bryant Martinez

Math teacher Claudia Valencia, standing in front of her classroom, March 6th, 2019. Godinez Fundamental.

Bryant Martinez, Staff Writer

Reassuring her students, “ it will be okay, life is stressful, things will become hectic but it will always be okay.” states Algebra II teacher, Claudia Valencia. Valencia’s wholehearted story of patience and hard work expresses her appreciation for teaching.

“I’m still trying to figure life out, I am work in progress,” exclaims Valencia. As the oldest of eight, Valencia was the role model for her seven younger siblings.

“She is extremely kind and very outgoing, Ms. Valencia is always patient with her students and takes time out of her time to help out anyone who needs it,” said Sophomore, Lizette Memiji.

Growing up as the daughter of an immigrant mother, Valencia describes the hardships her family faced and the many occasions where luck was by her side.

“She greets everyone with open smiles and a good morning, she has a contagious attitude which brightens up everyone’s day”, states Sophomore, Riley Perez.

Born and raised in Santa Ana, California, Valencia did not start to speak English until 4th grade at Franklin Elementary. Her love for education grew, as she said: “I Enjoyed school, I Enjoyed the process of learning new things, being the oldest, I loved going home and telling my younger siblings what I learned.”

During her freshman year at Saddleback High School, Valencia joined the cross country team, surprising everyone in her family, Valencia was able to compete and become extremely proficient at running, Sophomore year her coach pulled her aside and said: “she would receive a scholarship for running.” “I Grew up very poor and didn’t have very much money”. Valencia instantly saw this as the opportunity of a lifetime and continued to work day after day to improve her run times..

With this newly found opportunity, Valencia told  her mother “mom I am going to keep running to receive a scholarship,” and her always supporting mother’s responded, “I’ll take care of the rest.” As a daughter of a Hispanic family, many of her relatives criticize her mother for allowing her to go forward with her decision and not stick to Hispanic norms and help around the house.

Alongside her mother’s guidance and Valencia’s hard work, her senior year she was able to graduate from Saddleback in 2001 and attend Concordia College on a full-ride Scholarship. With help from her FAFSA, she lived at the dorms and purchase a car for herself, all because of her love for running and her hard work.

After graduating with a Degree in Mathematics, Valencia was able to start her work as a substitute teacher and landed her first teaching job at Segerstrom as a Math teacher.

After a couple of years at Segerstrom High School, her position was about to be out due to budget restraints. Nevertheless, the downfall was a stroke of luck for Valencia’s future. During graduation ceremony which she attended she recognized her Lathrop teacher who was at the time principle of Godinez Fundamental Highschool. She approached him for a job at the school and he was exactly looking for a position which suited her needs.

Now Valencia is at Godinez where  “My destiny was to be here at Godinez, I Love it and want to retire from this school”.

At the very end of our discussion, she quotes “ The best angle from which to approach any problem is the try-angle,” her way to go quote which she says always connects to her past, as she tried and worked hard and that got her to the place she is today. Her love for education and problem solving created an opportunity in which she could do what she loved while stating that  “One of the proudest achievements was to be able to teach in the community that grew up in.”

As part of an immigrant family and daughter to a high school dropout, Valencia always viewed her mother working multiple jobs, alongside her step-father. And through this struggle, Valencia wants to help the students at Godinez achieve their dream and aspire to reach their goals, always with a smile.