Valencia Caldwell is a middle school math teacher at Woodland State Street School. She was born and raised in Indiana but felt a strong calling to teach in Milwaukee. See why she feels strongly that all her students have a voice, and her love of being part of their village.
You never know where your calling might take you. Valencia Caldwell never imagined she would leave her hometown in Indiana but sometimes our callings will lead us on a new journey. She received a degree in Recreational Management and Therapeutic Rec with a minor in Business but struggled to find a job in this field.
Valencia remembers the impact teachers made in her life and starts to explore that option. She soon became a Teacher’s Assistant and this is where her love for teaching and her passion for students began. She then became a teacher with her own classroom and spent the nearly four years making an impact on many lives in Indiana. She even implemented a sporting initiative to support and encourage Black girls to play volleyball that continue to this day.
Valencia left an imprint on so many in Indiana and never imagined leaving. Then everything changed. After visiting her brother in Milwaukee and a new series at her church she had a calling to make a big life change and took the leap to move to Milwaukee and expand her horizons. “I felt like I was being called to Milwaukee… I knew I could make an impact.”
That’s how she eventually found herself at Woodland State Street School, teaching math to middle schoolers.
Valencia credits her success in Milwaukee to building a community that has poured their support into her. “ I don’t know that I would be in the positions that I’m in if it wasn’t for key people in education that have equipped me with my knowledge to be able to broaden my expansion here in Milwaukee.“ Thanks to that network she has only continued to grow as a teacher and create a space where everyone feels welcome.
As she explains, “The most important thing in my classroom is that you have a voice. I know how important it is to be seen and heard, and to allow my students to know it’s OK to make mistakes and that’s truly how you learn.”
In Valencia’s classroom everyone has a voice. She lets them learn by expressing themselves and through mistakes, because she believes it’s crucial that her classroom is a safe space.
She loves for her students to be creative – and she encourages it. Even through math she emphasizes that there’s no one way to get to the right answer. There’s always the opportunity to explore and get creative.
This may be her tenth year as a teacher, but for Valencia, teaching has always been about being part of “the village,” inspiring creativity, building confidence and helping her students find their voice.
“It’s never about the job,” Valencia says. “It’s the service that you’re giving. And I don’t think there’s money that can really buy the riches that you feel when you’ve made an impact.”