May 2017 Issue
April 27, 2017

Getting to know... Michelle Valente

Source: NYSUT United
Michelle Valente is the high school cook manager for the Monroe- Woodbury Central School District and a member of the Monroe-Woodbury Teachers Association.
Caption: Michelle Valente is the high school cook manager for the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District and a member of the Monroe-Woodbury Teachers Association. She was interviewed by Colleen Buck, president of the Monroe-Woodbury TA nonteaching employeees and a member of NYSUT’s SRP Advisory Committee. Photo by Marty Kerins Jr.

Tell me about your job and why you love what you do.

As the cook manager at Monroe-Woodbury High School, I serve breakfast and lunch for about 1,000 students a day. I try to make sure they have meals they love because, for some, it could be their only meal of the day. I also serve the high school staff.

I love my job because of the interaction with the students. I want to make a difference in their day. Sometimes my smile can change how their day is going. I know their smiles can change mine.

Tell me about your union involvement. How did you get involved?

I stand together with my union brothers and sisters, including our teachers association. I attend meetings and work to get my coworkers involved. I keep them informed of any upcoming events and issues. We appreciate our union reps because, without them, we'd have nothing.

How do you make a difference?

I hope to make a difference in the kids' lives because that's why we are here. I get involved and help wherever I can. I'm especially drawn to our students with special needs. Whenever I am asked to volunteer at any of their events, my answer is always YES. They know they can count on me and it's a pleasure to do so.

What about your community activities or hobbies?

Most of my community involvement and volunteerism is with the special needs community. The students wanted to be a part of the football team and the only way that was possible was for an adult to be with them, so I volunteer my time on the football field. They've taught me so much about football!

I also volunteer for our school's Interact Club's annual spaghetti dinner and the Rotary Club's annual dinner. Both of these events raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I also help the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

I recently volunteered for a day when our district hosted the Special Olympics. What an amazing day! Working with our students with special needs has taught me so much. I see them rooting each other on instead of putting each other down. Their work ethic is amazing. I don't see their disability, I only see their ability.

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