Influencer of the Week: Valerie Hunt, Spring Lake Elementary

Valerie Hunt is a second-grade teacher at Spring Lake, where she has entered her ninth year of teaching.

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Valerie Hunt is a second-grade teacher, and her job includes creating fun and interactive lesson plans for her students in reading, math, social studies, science and health. This role also includes consistently looking at data for each student to see where he or she needs help. She asks, “What needs to be retaught, and where can I improve as a teacher?”


What brought you to your school?

I lived in Winter Garden for many years, and I wanted to impact learning in the area.


What do you love most about your school?

My school is a community school. Many of the students walk to school. We only have one OCPS bus. So, we have very strong ties to our community.


What is your motivation?

My motivation comes from seeing students grow and start to succeed in the classroom. I love watching their scores go up and feeling like they now have a foundation to go on and be successful in school and eventually life.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Student success is very rewarding. However, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is running into former students and finding out what they are doing now. I have three former students who are teachers!


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to be creative. I am really into building birdbaths out of unusual shapes and colors. I love looking at the finished products. A friend of mine has one that I made, and her son was accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design; he told his mom that my birdbath looked like sculpture art. That felt amazing. 

I also love to travel.


Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My favorite teacher in school was Miss Anthony. She loved reading great books. In my reading group we read “The Hobbit.” Our principal didn’t believe that we could understand what we were reading, so he came by to observe our group and was amazed at the reading and discussion we had. She also told funny stories, which is why I tell my students stories to reward them for hard work. If you child was ever in my class, they probably came home and told you about “Blob the Frog!”


When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

I wanted to be a teacher. I loved school. I enjoyed being with my friends and teachers who made learning fun. Learning was an adventure that included field trips to the zoo, The Franklin Institute and many other fascinating places.


What is your favorite children’s book and why?

Right now, one of my favorite books, that I read to my class every year, is “The Magic Half.” It’s about the adventures of a little girl who finds herself in the past and she has to help another little girl with a big problem. The story includes some hilarious interaction with her twin brothers and some nail-biting interaction with a mean teenage boy in the past. It is sprinkled with fairy magic, and I love to stop reading and leave my students at the best parts. They are always excited for me to pick up where we left off.


If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

My superpower would be to read the minds of my students so I would know exactly what they are thinking and how to help them in the classroom. I feel like I have pretty great intuition with kids, but being able to read their minds would help! 


If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

Chicago, Journey and Billy Joel.  What can I say, I am an ’80s girl. My poor kids grew up listening to that music in my car all the time and probably know the words to every song I know.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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