Victoria Almaraz, 2nd Grade Teacher at Hazel Dell Elementary in Vancouver, Washington
Nominated by: Rachel Goode (parent)
When I think of the things that Ms. Almaraz is doing for my son, and for her class, I'm brought to tears every time. My son has dyslexia, so school has been a struggle up until this year. Ms. Almaraz's ability to engage her students is phenomenal. She makes her classroom environment so fun (practical jokes, elf on the shelf, exciting hands-on projects!) and my son now looks forward to school every day.
Recently, Ms. Almaraz started hosting a boy’s group lunch for her class, where she asks them to dress nicely, sits with them at a special lunch table (during her prep time) to teach them manners and how to be young gentlemen. Her emphasis on education, and life skills too, demonstrates how she goes above and beyond in impacting the lives of her students.
When we received my son's class photo, I was once again reminded of the pride Ms. Almaraz takes in being a teacher; she was dressed to the nines! She shares personal glimpses into her life with the students, and my son has never talked about a teacher more. Her students are completely "bought-in" and she's making a huge difference in her classroom, and in turn, the community.
Congrats, Victoria, from all of us at K103! Get to know Victoria Almaraz:
What inspired you to become an educator?
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Conners, inspired me to become an educator. I was homeschooled in kindergarten because I had a difficult time handling the separation from my mom. My parents thought it was time to try again when first grade came even though they knew it might be a challenge. Surprisingly, I had a wonderful year, and it was because I had a phenomenal teacher. Mrs. Conners didn’t just teach…she showed she cared and loved her students. I knew early on that I wanted to impact others the way she impacted me. During my last semester of college, I ran into Mrs. Conners at the local supermarket. I was able to express my gratitude to her and share that because of her I was graduating with a degree as an educator. We cried in the aisle together, and as I stood there, my hope was that I’d have the same experience…to leave a lasting impression on one of my future students.
What do you like most about teaching?
The best part of my job, is knowing that I made a difference in a little person’s life. I get the opportunity to impact kids as they shape and mold into who they’re going to be.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
I’m a millennial and I should be pretty savvy with technology; however, my kids know more than me at times. Technology is used so much more in the classroom today than ever before. I think it’s a great way to interact with students because it’s something they’re familiar with and feel comfortable using.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
I would like parents to know that I truly love what I do and I love their kids. Yes, academics are important; however, I don’t feel I can be truly successful at my job without first developing a relationship with my class. My goal each year is to build meaningful relationships with each student. Yes, my students may look back 20 years from now and say, “I had a crazy 2nd grade teacher who sang and danced around the room, but she was the best.”
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I feel it’s extremely important to build a relationship with my students, so I started a “Ladies and Gentlemen” group. Once a month, the boys and girls have their own time to sit and have lunch with me. They learn how to present themselves in a professional manner, while learning table etiquette, and how to hold a conversation. We focus on social skills and collaborative and inclusive conversation. I encourage them to dress up. It’s so precious to see them arrive in blazers, bow ties, dresses, and heels.