Q&A: New high-school assistant’s love lived ‘next door’

Valerie Velo

Valerie Velo is the new assistant to the head of high school. She was hired over winter break as a replacement for Gabriella Foster, who recently moved to San Diego.

Q: What did you do before you worked here? 

A: I was a preschool teacher for a few years at Holy Family Catholic School and Capital Christian School. I was also a teacher’s aide at St. Mary School (Sacramento).

Q: Are you married? 

A: I am; his name is Giovanni.

Q: How did you two meet?

A: We met back when we were both working at St. Mary. Actually, it’s a funny story.

We both went to Christian Brothers (High School) but we never met. I was a freshman when he was a senior.

Then we lived three blocks away from each other in college and never met, at least not until St. Mary.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from Sacramento, born and raised.

Q: Have you always lived here?

A: I have. I’ve lived all of my life within five blocks of my current house.

Q: How did you hear about the opening here?

A: (Third-grade teacher) Kristi Mathisen and I met when we were working at St. Mary School. We’re friends on Facebook, and I saw all of her posts about how great the school is and how great the work and kids are.

I was at a point in my life where I needed change, so I went to the website and clicked on employment and saw the opening.

Q: How has it been adjusting to the new environment?

A: It’s been great so far. Everybody has been so warm, welcoming and helpful. Learning the new systems and routines was a challenge, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of it, so I’ll be completely up to speed in no time!

Q: Do you have any children?

A: I have a daughter who was five months old on Jan. 8. Her name is Grace.

Q: What college did you go to, and in what did you major?

A: I went to Sac State, and I majored in child development.

Q: Why child development?

A: Originally, I was a psych major. But I started working in an after-school program, and I found that I liked kids.

I talked to one of my coworkers and we talked about college and what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives, and she was a child development major.

I looked up the requirements and decided to change my major. It wasn’t something I was planning to do, but it just kind of happened.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Lately, my only hobby has been spending time with my daughter, but I also love to cook and hang out with our animals. We have two dogs and just adopted a kitten.

We go to the animal shelter a couple of times a year, and my husband and I keep talking about moving out to a big plot of land and having a bunch of animals. All of our current pets sleep on the bed, so we joke about needing a bigger one so that we can fit them all!

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

A: I was a vegetarian for 13 years.

Q: Why did you start, and why did you stop?

A: I went to St. Mary for lower school. For Lent, our PE teacher challenged us to give up meat for 40 days. Originally, it was part of a classroom assignment, but it just kind of carried on for me.

It kept going until three years ago. I was diagnosed with celiac (disease). I wasn’t getting proper nutrition, so my doctor recommended eating more meat.

I like eating meat – I’m definitely a carnivore. That’s why most people never think that I was a vegetarian!

Quin LaComb

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