This week I met with Wes Valentine. Mr. Valentine has a long history of teaching art in Richmond Hill. He previously taught at Carver Elementary, and is enjoying his first year teaching at the high school. It became quickly apparent to me while interviewing Mr. Valentine that he has unquestionable passion for both art and teaching.
Q: How long have you been teaching?
A: This will be my ninth year.
Q: How long have you lived in Richmond Hill?
A: I’ve lived in Richmond Hill for 30 years, since I was two.
Q: Growing up in Richmond Hill what changes have you seen?
A: The population of Richmond Hill has gone up a lot. Richmond Hill used to be very, very rural - mostly woods and a lot of dirt roads. In the past 30 years, that’s changed a lot. There’s a lot more subdivisions, which means a much more diverse student population. There’re people moving here from all over the country. There’re a lot of people living in Richmond Hill that aren’t originally from Richmond Hill. When I was a child everybody who lived in Richmond Hill was born in Richmond Hill, which is nice in a way because you get to meet a lot of new people. But it’s a lot more crowded.
Q: What changes have you seen in RHHS while growing up in Richmond Hill?
A: The way it’s organized is very different. We give the students more choices now, but you seem to have to make those choices earlier. Like if you’re going to go T.P. (Tech Prep) or C.P. (College Prep) you have to make those decisions early. But because of that you have more opportunities as far as what kind of classes you can take.
Q: Why do you teach art?
A: I teach art because I really, really enjoy art. I enjoy making art. When I was in college I was taking art classes, and liked those the most, and was trying to decide what I could do with an art career and just explored teaching. I really enjoy teaching students to do things that they otherwise would think they don’t know how to do. A lot of people think you have to be born with art talent, and I don’t think I was born with art talent. I was born with art interest. I like to find students who are interested in art, but don't think they know how to make it and then showing them that they can gain talent through effort.
Q: What made you switch from Carver to the high school?
A: I student taught at Windsor Forest High School so I had a little bit of high school background, and I always had enjoyed that experience. I loved my time at Carver, and I enjoyed working with the younger children. But I knew that at some point I wanted to take a shot at the high school level.
- Stephen Hundley