Annette Valenzuela teaches art but she knows a bit about history as well. In fact, it’s because of her knowledge of art that the Duncanville ISD recently made history.
Behind her leadership, Duncanville was named a District of Distinction for the first time ever in September by the Texas Art Education Association.
Valenzuela is in her 17th year teaching at Duncanville and is the district art lead.
Her parents were also in education. Ironically, she didn’t want to follow them.
“I was afraid of being the one responsible for what kids learned. What if I taught them incorrect information?” she said.
Fine arts has also always been in her family.
“My mom grew up in a very musical family with guitar, piano and was in band so, as a result, my siblings and I also play the piano and in band,” she said.
It wasn’t until the fashion industry was fizzling out locally and she started to help at a daycare that she realized she might have a future teaching art.
“I love watching kids figure out how to create the challenges that I give them. They learn how to see the details in the world around them,” she said.
Valenzuela refuses to take all the credit for the district’s art success, however.
“DoD is a team collaboration, and everyone does their part. They are a great bunch which is one of the reasons I’ve been in one place for 17 years,” she said.
Valenzuela said one of her favorite events is district art show and seeing what all her fellow creatives have done with their students.
“Last year was really special because we had the show in the Shine Performance Hall foyer and our fine arts director helped us to make it more elegant than it has been in the past,” she said.
Valenzuela is an advocate of community service, something she does regularly with her students. For example, National Art Honor Society students, along with the student council, painted holiday cheer messages on the windows of a nearby nursing home.
“I think it’s always heartwarming to do for others in need, and helping our kids learn compassion is very important,” she said.
NAHS also hosted a Big Art Day where students, clubs, organizations, and athletes drew on sidewalk squares in front of the school. Last year NAHS had over 75 hours in opportunities for members to do community service. TAEA requires 60 hours to be considered for DoD.
Also, the DHS band is advancing to the State Marching Contest and the NAHS helped create their performance props.
“We dance and sing in celebration. We learn to express feelings, and it is often very therapeutic in creating art and theater. Music is in every occasion.
“Whether it is realized or not, the arts are part of each of us in some way or another. Helping kids to channel their creativity can help them realize who they are as part of their society and community.”