Valerie found teaching art gratifying. “I loved the students at Renfroe Middle school. Kids have a great sense of humor and they are full of surprises.” In 2016, Valerie retired. “I gave up my identity as an artist for a while to be a teacher and now I’m trying to recapture that identity.”
Valerie Gilbert moved to Decatur 23 years ago. At that time a friend told her about a house that was about to come up for rent. “I jumped on it. I felt like it had a lot of potential and that I belonged here. I loved Decatur, that it was close to Atlanta, but not too close, and that it was a cool funky little community.”
Valerie was involved in the professional world of art, showing, and selling her clay-based creations. After undergoing a divorce and purchasing her home, Valerie returned to college to get a teaching degree. She was eventually hired at Renfroe Middle School in Decatur.
Valerie found teaching art gratifying. “I loved the students at Renfroe. Middle school kids have a great sense of humor and they are full of surprises. There was never a dull day. Some students really loved art while others didn’t. My art class was a place where I could meet all these kids in the middle.” Unfortunately, due to Valerie’s demanding teaching schedule, she did not find the time to devote to her own art.
After teaching for 15 years, Valerie retired in 2016. “I love making large figurative clay sculptures, but I don’t feel strong enough to do that anymore. So, I’m switching back to working with mixed media. I gave up my identity as an artist for a while to be a teacher. I put it in a box and buried it, and now I’m trying to recapture that identity.”