(Augusta) – The Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has awarded a Maine educator for their outstanding work in financial education. The Maine Jump$tart Financial Educator of the Year Award, established in 2012, was created to recognize an individual who has who has distinguished themselves through their efforts to improve the financial capability of the students and families they serve. The 2018-2019 honoree, Dr. Valerie Ann Waldemarson of Caribou High School, exemplifies the true spirit of the award.
Dr. Waldemarson is the backbone of the Caribou High School Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) program, an organization that focuses on strengthening career development skills, through diverse curriculum aimed to prepare students for the real world. As a JMG specialist, Waldemarson is well-known for her dynamic, creative, and thought-provoking teaching style. Her outside-the-box methods have earned her a reputation of being a fearless leader pioneering new and effective means of teaching finance.
Moving with her family from Florida to Maine in 2015, this transition included geography as well as a career change. A graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law, her professional background is in Federal Law. In her new role as an educator, she has gone above and beyond, enthusiastically volunteering for positions within the school and local community. “Val volunteers for everything going on at school, and if she doesn’t do that, she is volunteered because she does such an efficient and professional job,” writes fellow Caribou teacher, Peg Conlogue. She continues, “It doesn’t matter what the task is- selling hot dogs, boosting staff morale, working on fundraising events. It seems like she is the ‘go to’ person, as she can get the job done and done right.”
Walking into Waldemarson’s classroom, you won’t find bored students sitting down listening to a lecture. Her lessons are interactive, often involving real world scenarios and hands-on activities. She brings concepts of financial literacy to life, providing students opportunities to participate within the community. Some examples include working the school concession at sporting events, working at the local recreation center, putting on Christmas and Halloween events for the community, and volunteering at the Caribou Marathon. She also brings the community into her classroom, inviting representatives from local businesses to teach students important financial lessons. Through incorporation of projects, often involving multimedia modalities, community service, and real-life tasks, students are being prepared for future career success and having fun in the process.
“There are simply not enough good words in the English dictionary that I can use to describe her as a person or educator. The education system is looking to breathe new life into their schooling…I believe that it’s people like Dr. Waldemarson that can do just that. We not only need people like her in the education system, we need more people like her in this world,” said Apollo Grondin, a recent JMG and Caribou High School graduate. Students, parents, and community members all agree, and could not be more appreciative to have Dr. Waldemarson as an advocate, role-model, and inspiration in their lives.
Valerie will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Jump$tart Educator Conference in Cleveland, Ohio this November, where she will network with financial educators from around the country and gather resources she can use in her classroom. In addition to the award, she will receive a $500 financial education grant from Machias Savings Bank. She will be formally honored at the 2019 Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools Conference on May 10th, at the Augusta Civic Center. Maine Jump$tart is thrilled to grant this award to such a hardworking, passionate individual as Dr. Valerie Ann Waldemarson of Caribou High School.