Every so often, a very deserving educator receives rare recognition from their school district. Most of you do your utmost to make a difference for students each day and every one of you is deserving.
Last Sunday, one of the members of our Special Education (Sped) Dream Team, the remarkable Val Simons from Euclid Elementary in City Heights, CA was officially recognized by our home district for her creativity and dedication to serving students through the Arts. As a “mod to severe” specialist who makes music a daily part of learning for her students in San Diego Unified School District, Val joined other award winners at the grand Copley Symphony Hall downtown for this elegant event. Among all the arts educators and outstanding music students who were honored, Val stood proudly as the representative for special education in the presence of our Superintendent, Cindy Marten, members of the San Diego Unified School Board, and the Vice Chair of the California Arts Council, Larry Baza.
She won a cash award from the VAPA Foundation that supported her to further equip her classroom with musical equipment! In addition to filling her room with percussion instruments and ukuleles for every child, she can now add a karaoke machine, and acquire instrument wall hangers in order to keep the ukes safely off the floor of her classroom.
We want to share this proud moment with you because Val is tireless, humble and irreducibly dedicated to fighting for the rights, respect and education her students deserve. Her creativity is boundless. She has been making the world better for kids with special needs since 1989 when she was first introduced to the Special Olympics by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Since that day there has been no looking back.
Val has worked very hard to be able to play ukulele and guitar, and to learn to transmit what she knows to her students. And because of her, they are now singing, writing songs, playing ukes, drums, shakers and more, and they are responding to the power of music to help them learn new ideas, vocabulary and behaviors. We hope her achievement inspires you, encourages you to ask for what you need and shine your own light as brightly as possible.
If Val had not applied for a VAPA grant, this award wouldn’t have happened. We must sing out, reach out and share our passion. You may be heard. rewarded and recognized! As my mother says, “If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. What’s the worst thing that can happen??”
Speaking of mom, if you would like to make a donation in honor of Val or a nurturing friend or a special mom- yours or one you love during this month’s Mother’s Day fundraising campaign for Guitars in the Classroom, please visit our new project HERE on GlobalGiving.org! The donation choices are excellent and include a one time 100% match for setting up a recurring donation. Learn more about it at our facebook page.
Congratulations to Val Simons on successfully standing up for students and representing the value of bringing the arts into special education!