“Mustangs Ahead” is asking teachers “Why do you teach?” This segment by Paige Venuto is about LRHS Spanish teacher Valerie Finnegan.
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. It was the only thing I wanted to do for years. I think that was because I had some wonderful teachers in school who really seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
However, when I was a junior in high school, I started to question if it was the right path for me. So, I entered college without declaring a major. This allowed me to take the required courses while considering what career path I wanted to take.
For a while, I seriously considered becoming a lawyer. In the end, though, I decided that teaching was really what I wanted to do. I originally thought I would teach English, but after doing a study abroad in Spain and completing part of my student teaching at the American School Foundation in Mexico City, Mexico, I realized that I wanted to share what I learned during those experiences. As I always tell my students, you never know what unplanned paths your life will take.
I started teaching right out of college. However, while I was in high school, I worked as a waitress at a restaurant at a ski resort near my home in Pennsylvania. During my summers in college, I worked at a Country Club Golf Course. I started at a snack shack and then moved to waitressing in the country club restaurant. While in my senior year in college, I worked as a teaching assistant (TA) and graded tests for my Spanish professors.
I started teaching in Franklin, Virginia, in 1996. I was also the varsity cheerleading coach for the five years I taught there. I moved to Florida in 2001 because I wanted to obtain my master’s degree, which I earned in 2005. This is my 17th year at Lakewood Ranch High School. Throughout my years of teaching, I have taught Spanish levels 1-4.
My favorite part of my job is being with my students. Every day with them is an adventure and I am constantly learning from them. My least favorite parts of my job are grading make-up work and the increasing requirements that are constantly being placed upon teachers and schools.