Q & A: Valerie Maslyn

February 12, 2020

Where did you go to college and how would you describe your college experience?

I went to undergraduate at Virginia Tech and graduate school at Drexel University. Virginia Tech was AMAZING and my experience was more than wonderful. I loved hanging out with my friends, boyfriend, going to football games, and generally just enjoying the beautiful campus. My classes were hard, I was in pre-med, but manageable.

Graduate school was definitely a different experience as I was not living on campus, but commuting. My boyfriend had become my fiance at that point, and he had a job in Elkton, Md, while Drexel was in Philadelphia. The result was us living in a small town in Delaware, half way in between the two places. I liked Drexel, but did not have the same love for it as I do Virginia Tech.

Can you think of any one event or person that changec your outlook on life? If yes, then what was it and how did it change your outlook?

Outside of my son making me a mother, my husband for sure changed my outlook on life. I met him at the end of my freshman year at Virginia Tech. He was the first person I have ever just immediately felt comfortable around. He believed I could do anything. If I said I couldn’t do something, he would ask me, “Why not?” He was the one who suggested that I teach science because it was something he knew that I loved. He now, obviously, is the person that gave me my beautiful son. He helped me adopt the mentality, “She believed she could, so she did.”

What was your life like before Wando?

Before I came to Wando, my husband and I were living in Newark, Del. and I was a long-term substitute at a school in Oxford, Pa. about 20 minutes away from Newark. I was not happy living in Delaware. We had already decided that once my husband got a job, we would move somewhere warmer. We wanted to live in Charleston and as soon as he got a job, we moved. I got my job at Wando one week after we got here.

What hobbies do you have outside of your occupation?

I LOVE fitness. My husband and I do Spartan racing, which is a form of obstacle course racing. I spend my time running, doing high intensity interval training, weight training and generally just working out. This year I received my first Spartan Trifecta (three races in one calendar year, each of increasing difficulty).

What’s the most intense memory that you have?

Definitely the birth of my son. So much love and emotion.

What is the funniest experience you have had working at Wando?

Once my co-worker and I ordered a batch of lab supplies. As we were carrying them from the prep room to the classroom, I tripped, fell over the table and dropped half of them. As I was trying to catch the ones that I dropped, I dropped the rest of them. It literally looked like a scene from Looney Tunes with me tripping, fumbling, and ultimately dropping everything. We were rolling in the floor, laughing so hard we were crying.

What’s your family like? What’s one of your favorite things about them?

My immediate family consists of my husband, Brenden, and my son, Elijah. I love them immensely. My favorite thing about both Brenden and Elijah is that they both have Brenden’s fun-loving, joking personality. Elijah’s teacher actually said that Elijah is the “jokester” of his class. This is definitely Brenden. We have so much fun together on the weekends. Brenden and I always wanted children to play with give new experiences so it is nice to share that.

If you could reconnect with one person from your childhood, who would you choose to see again? Why?

There was a teacher that I truly loved that passed away before I became a teacher. I would like to see her again to tell her that she was one of the reasons that I became a teacher and that she had a profound impact on my life. I would also say that I was sorry for all the talking and fooling around that I did in her class. She was amazing and I should have appreciated her more.

Are you superstitious? If yes, are there any weird superstitions that you have to this day?

No, not generally. I do not believe in superstitions, religion, ghost, or really anything supernatural — just science.

What’s your favorite pet story?

My sweet cat, Coty, loves to cuddle, and he’s my favorite thing outside of Elijah, but he does not really have any good stories. I also have another cat, Ana, and a dog, Lizzie.

Why did you decide to teach Biology and Human Body Systems?

Fall of 2013 I was sitting at my kitchen table, crying that I should not have dropped out of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to try to become an elementary school teacher. That day had been my first day observing in an elementary school classroom and I had become extremely frustrated to learn that the students were only taught science on a rotating basis and it was not authentic, but out of a pre-made kit. The elementary school teachers were told to focus on test scores in reading and math, not science. As someone who had always loved science and looked forward to science class, experiments, and field trips in school, as a future teacher, I struggled with the idea that I would never really teach science. My husband looked at me and said, “Well why don’t you?” Perplexed, I looked at him and said, “Why don’t I what?” “Teach science.” He said. This one conversation changed the entire course of my career. Why didn’t I teach science? Why didn’t I do what I felt was best for students everywhere? I loved science. I loved medicine. I had wanted to be a doctor because of my love for science and medicine, why not use this love and spread it? I walked into my first day of observing in an Anatomy and AP Biology classroom and knew I was in the right place.

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