As a longtime teacher, Angelica Strong knows how easy it is for students to feel helpless. But what students often forget is that teachers have had their own struggles too, and can often sympathize more than they’d expect. Mrs. Strong is one of many teachers at Spring Valley who has endured her own hardships before reaching the success she has today.
At 16-years-old, Mrs. Strong was abandoned by her mother and forced to find a place to live on her own. As only a junior in high school, she had no idea what to do, but adapted with the help of her friends.
“I wasn’t sure how to feel,” said Strong. “I was more anxious and scared than anything else. I wasn’t even sad, I was just scared because I was like ‘Okay I’m gonna have to do this but how am I going to do this. I’m a kid, I’m not an adult.’”
Strong stayed with her friend for a couple of months before finding an apartment with a co-worker. While there, Strong managed to attend school full time and secure a job at GAP working 35 hours a week.
If it weren’t for the kindness of her friends, Strong said she wouldn’t be where she is today. Her friends gave her food, a place to live, and even job references.
“I just remember that for everything I had to work around it. It wasn’t easy because I was sixteen, so for everything I had to depend on others to help me out. I realized I can’t be an island,” said Strong. “I had to have friends.”
Her junior year proved to be most difficult because she was balancing a full day of six classes along with working to pay bills.
There were times when Strong felt discouraged and wanted to give up on school and work. Yet, she remained strong-willed and reminded herself that the rewards in the end would be worth it. Her goal was to earn the Millennium Scholarship to attend The University of Las Vegas (UNLV).
Her experiences, Strong said, are what motivated her to become a teacher. Among her friends that helped her were also teachers who inspired her to keep going. She wanted to follow in their footsteps to help students learn about history and to let them know that she will be there to help when they have problems.
Strong is also an Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher at Spring Valley. She decided to be involved with the program because she feels students can relate to her and receive support while dealing with their struggles. Strong also believes that if the AVID program had been available for her, she would’ve been less lonely and able to get more support.
“Sometimes when I felt I didn’t understand the concept I needed someone to talk to, it would have been awesome or more beneficial to have somebody to turn to,” said Strong.
Students are encouraged to seek help whenever they’re struggling. SVHS is full of resources that strive to better accommodate students, whether it be with their personal problems or a simple meal. If students don’t feel comfortable talking to their class counselors, they can turn to a teacher they feel they can confide in or the student advocate that has been assigned to the school, Mrs. Janene French.
Students can acquire assistance though the Title 1 Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE) closet. They provide those in need with everyday necessities like toiletries, clothes and shoes, and snacks for the weekend when school isn’t in session.
“I hope that [students] feel as though they have somebody to talk to and maybe they understand that I’m not just a crazy teacher,” Strong said. “Because a lot of the times there’s a disconnect. Teachers are humans too. And I hope that it humanizes me a little more and realize like okay she understands the struggle of being a student.”