Byline: ROBERT NOTT, PHOTO BY NATALIE GUILLEN
Every working day, Dolores Valdez de Pong travels to distant lands. She's been a teacher at Carlos Gilbert Elementary School for 32 years (as of Thursday, Dec. 21), and she's brought music, theater, and the visual arts into the classroom. For her, art is a portal through which her students can enter any world they wish -- and learn a lot about themselves in the process.
With her mother, Valdez de Pong co-wrote Life in Los Sauces (Adobe Village Press, 2005). It recounts her mother's life in a tiny, isolated, Spanish-speaking village in southern Colorado during the 1920s and '30s. Her mother, Olivama Salazar de Valdez, died in December 2005, less than two months after the book was published. "She saw her dream realized, and she got to sign 100 copies of the book," Valdez de Pong recalled during an interview in her classroom at Carlos Gilbert. Not surprisingly, the room was decorated with student-made art.http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-177118520.html