Teacher of the Year inspires students through Fine Arts
As a young dancer, Kia Valentine had visions of her name in lights as a professional dancer.
But in an instant those dreams were dashed.
“I had a major knee injury in college and it kind of curbed my progress, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go on the path that I had taken,” said Valentine.
She had been working on her dance degree from Columbia College, where one of her professors urged her to consider a career in dance education, making the case that so many talented individuals leave their communities in pursuit of fame, but few are left to nurture the talents of local children.
Up to that point, Valentine said she had no interest in becoming a teacher, but she decided to take her professor’s advice.
“I taught a few classes under Target 2000 grant a long time ago. When I taught those students and I saw how much they loved the arts I knew that what I wanted to do was to share my passion of arts with the students,” Valentine said. “That’s kind of the roundabout way I got into teaching.”
Since entering the classroom 16 years ago, Valentine has worked to instill a passion for the arts in her students. She currently teaches an integrated fine arts program in dance, visual arts and drama at Barnwell Primary School.
Among the biggest rewards for Valentine is to see students who may struggle academically or with social skills or emotional issues but are able to excel at dance, drama or art.
“It excites me to see them be able to come into my classroom where they are nurtured in a way they are going to succeed rather than fail, and they feel that way too,” Valentine said.
Valentine’s dedication earned praise from her peers when she was named Teacher of the Year at Barnwell District 45. Valentine admitted that she was surprised to be named Teacher of the Year, since this fall marks only her third year teaching in the district.
“Being singled out is such an honor and quite humbling, but I would rather be a quiet leader working among many great teachers,” Valentine said.
A few years ago, her former school district, Williston District 29, honored her similarly. She taught for 12 years at Kelly Edwards Elementary School.
One of Valentine’s teaching colleagues started seeking out different master’s programs in her area, and invited a representative from Southern Wesleyan University to speak to the faculty. Valentine and four other teachers enrolled in the master’s degree program in education offered at Southern Wesleyan’s North Augusta education center.
“My undergraduate was in dance and I got a certification in advanced fine arts as an add-on certification. So I didn’t go through student teaching,” Valentine said, adding that classes she took at Southern Wesleyan were classes that focused on strategies for building a community and classroom management.
Valentine benefited spiritually when she began reading through a Bible she received in a class.
“The Bible that was given to me got me on the right track at the right time,” she said.
Valentine earned her master’s degree from Southern Wesleyan in 2007.
Southern Wesleyan University’s North Augusta education center is located at 802 East Martintown Rd., Suite 101 in North Augusta. For details about programs offered in North Augusta, visit swu.edu/northaugusta, email or call (803) 426-7981.
With regional education centers conveniently located across South Carolina, as well as fully online programs for select degrees, Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, visit swu.edu.