We all know that a positive relationship between students and teachers can boost academic performance. But the significance of this connection goes deeper than just getting good grades. When a teacher genuinely cares about their students and takes an interest in their lives, it can transform the student's overall well-being. This is exactly what Cristina Valentino, a course instructor at WGU's School of Education, aims to achieve.
Cristina's journey to WGU began when a colleague introduced her to the university. She seized the opportunity to apply for an open English language learner instructor position, drawing from her experience as an English to Speakers of Other Languages consultant for Florida’s Department of Education. As an experienced educator, Cristina understands the importance of social interaction in the learning process. For her, "The more you interact with people, the more you learn. You can receive and give feedback, which helps you develop and get to know yourself better."
Witnessing others achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and defy the odds has always been a great source of inspiration for Cristina. Throughout her time at WGU, Cristina has found special meaning in the university's commencement and employee resource groups. She says, "When you're in need of inspiration, meeting people and learning their stories never disappoints." This sentiment is also the cornerstone of WGU's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And as a member of the LatinX Owls ERG, Cristina values connecting with like-minded individuals who share similar backgrounds or experiences in, as she says, "an environment where I feel safe being my authentic self and taking interpersonal risks."
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, Cristina takes pride in the impact of her community, reflecting:
"We recognize that Hispanic heritage is American heritage. We see it in every aspect of our national life ... Many are doctors and nurses on the front lines; others serve as military members and sacrifice for the United States. Our communities are represented by Hispanic elected officials, our children are taught by Hispanic teachers, and our future is being shaped by Hispanic engineers developing new technologies."
This month serves as a reminder of the vibrant threads of Hispanic heritage that are woven into the fabric of American life. By taking the time to recognize and celebrate these contributions, we can build bridges of understanding and support for one another.