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PAA Teacher Wish List Award Recipient: Valeria Silva

In a new initiative that honors TWU’s strong legacy of producing some of the best educators in the state and our commitment to impactful giving, the Pioneer Alumni Association would like to announce the PAA Teacher Wish List Award Program. On an ongoing basis the Board of Directors will award a TWU alumni who is a primary school teacher up to $250 towards their Amazon Teacher’s Wish List. If you are a PreK-12 educator and would like to be considered for this award, contact us here

The first educator to receive the PAA Teacher Wish List award is Valeria Silva, Class of ‘18. Hernandez was a first generation college student when she began her college career at TWU and is now a dual language Pre-K teacher in West Dallas. We caught up with her to ask a few questions about her time at TWU, the challenges of being a teacher, and what supplies she bought with the award.

Where are you from and where do you live now?

I was born in Guanajuato, México and have lived in the United States since the age of 9. Currently I live in Dallas. 

What was your major at TWU and what year did you graduate?

My major was interdisciplinary studies with a bilingual certification.  

What made you choose TWU?

I chose TWU because it was affordable for me and close to home. 

What do you remember the most from your time at TWU? Was there a class or professor that really affected you or prepared you especially well for your career?

The most memorable part of my time at TWU was having the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with friends and with professors. I had so many great professors at TWU, but honestly Dr. Mandy Stewart was just amazing.  While taking her class I discovered how literature can be meaningful and make connections to students. She connected every lecture to a children’s book or novel which made it such a unique experience. She helped prepare me to build those genuine relationships with my students and parents.

Can you tell us a little bit about your job? What’s the name of the school you teach at and how did you end up doing that specifically?

I’m currently a Pre-K (4 year old) teacher at West Dallas STEM School in Dallas. Our campus, which serves Pre-K students through 8th grade, is a four-way partnership between Dallas ISD, Toyota, SMU and our West Dallas community. This is our first year to launch elementary grades. 

I ended up in my current position for many reasons but the main two are that my family lives in West Dallas and I had previously worked with the principal. She was actually the one who hired me my first year as a teacher and I worked for her for two years before she was asked to start this project that is now the West Dallas STEM school. 

What are some of the biggest challenges being a teacher?

The biggest challenge as a teacher has been every year I ask myself what more could I do to help my student become successful. I always want to do more for them.

What do you love about being a teacher?

What I love about being an educator is seeing how students grow throughout the year. Whether it is academic or social growth the transformation at the end of the year makes all the difference.

Can you tell me what it means to have received the PAA Teacher Wish List award? What were you able to purchase with those funds?

The PAA award left me speechless. I’m humbled by this award. This award means that I have the opportunity to give my students engaging literature that is appropriate for their age. The Mo Willems books are a hit with my 4 year olds. They were amazed when I read the book “Chairs on Strike.” It opened up great discussions about how we need to treat our materials in the classroom. With this donation I was able to get books, storage, clipboards and journals.