Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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5 Questions with Valerie Collura ’84


Valerie ColluraValerie received her BA from Simon’s Rock and is a second grade English Language Arts teacher in Pinole, California where she has taught for over 25 years and lives with her dog, Aziraphale.

Summarize your Simon's Rock Experience in 12 words or less.

A process of discovering who I was and who I could become.

Who do you consider to be a teacher in your life?

My students are my biggest teachers. I learn from them every single day. Today, I learned about a llamacorn as my student read from a book called The Llamacorn is Kind.

Do you remember your first day at Simon’s Rock?

I remember the first day I heard of Simon’s Rock. This envelope came in the mail and I opened it up and the pamphlet said, “Why wait to go to college?” I had no idea it was a possibility to go to college early. I thought, “I could get out of here and go somewhere really cool.”

Is there a book you’d recommend all children read?

The most important books for kids to read are the ones that spark their interest. I don’t assign reading to kids. For me, the books I dislike are the ones I was made to read. I hate Charles Dickens because I was forced to read Great Expectations in seventh grade. So, I have never read any other Dickens. I don’t want to do that to kids. I will read books to them that I love because my love will come through in that reading. When they read, I want them to read books they love. This is what makes kids want to read.

Why do you give to Simon’s Rock?

Simon’s Rock is such an amazing and special place, and it could not have the diversity that’s crucial to it being such a special place if there weren't scholarships available for students who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend.